Both the number of pain management specialists and
medical malpractice claims for pain management-related injury and death increased between
1980 and 2012, according to results of a study presented at the American
Society of Anesthesiologists’ 2014 Annual Meeting. But one statistic
does not explain the other.

“We found that pain claims increased by 6.3 percent for every 10
years, whereas the number of pain anesthesiologists increased by only
2.0 percent per 10 years,” Dr. Kelly Pollak told attendees.

Since claims have changed in type and increased in severity, researchers
hope anesthesiologists and doctors administering analgesics and opioids
will take note of the study’s findings.

For instance, medication-related claims increased from 2 percent to 17
percent, whereas lumbar injection claims decreased from 37 percent to
17 percent.

“In the past, many claims involved epidural steroid injections, but
those injuries tended to be minor and temporary,” Medscape said
October 16, 2014. “However, recent closed-claims analyses have identified
an increase in major adverse outcomes … Deaths and severe nerve
injury increased significantly,” per Pollak.

Researchers initially thought the increase in lawsuits was due to an increase
in the number of anesthesiologists providing treatment for chronic pain.
Since they discovered otherwise, they believe future research should be
devoted to learning about the doctors who
are providing the care.

“Are these all board-certified pain specialists? Are they other physicians?
That’s a very important factor that should be examined,” Dr.
Michael Avram said.

Opioid and Sedative Mix a Deadly Combination

While analyzing more than thirty years of chronic pain management malpractice
claims, Drs. Pollak and Avram noted that death was the most common side
effect from doctors prescribing both opioids and sedatives.

Last year,
American Medical News reported that an increasing number of doctors are being sued for negligence after a
prescription drug overdose.

“When a patient suffers an injury as a result of a prescribed medication,
questions will always arise as to whether the medications were needed,
whether a proper history and physical examination was conducted, or whether
the physician properly documented the encounter,” one attorney stated.
“Any failure on the part of the physician can open him [or] her
up to liability.”

Contact Mellino Law with Your Pain Management Doctor Questions

If you or a loved one suffered a permanent injury or death as a result
of pain management malpractice, attorney
Chris Mellino welcomes you to
contact our Cleveland office for a free consultation.