While it may come as a surprise to some, statistics show that substance abuse in older adults is a major problem in the United States. In fact, according to the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI), prescription drugs are abused by up to 17 percent of adults age 60 and older. While there are a number of contributing factors behind this epidemic, one leading cause is negligence on the part of healthcare professionals.
If you are an attorney working on a case involving an elder with drug dependence allegedly resulting from misdosage, misdiagnosis or overprescription by a medical professional, Cardinal LifeCare’s services may be of benefit. Our network includes legal nurse consultants, medical expert witnesses and objective, detail-oriented life care planners who are highly qualified to assist in medical malpractice claims cases. To learn more about our services, experience and evidence-based methods, call us at 724-487-0519.
Treating Substance Abuse in Older Adults
In order to devise strategies for effective treatment of substance abuse in older adults, it is essential to first understand the reasons why it occurs. To start, conditions that warrant the use of controlled pharmaceutical drugs tend to be more common among elderly individuals than other age groups. For example, seniors may be more likely to experience the following due to age-related changes:
- Chronic pain;
- Discomfort after surgery (commonly needed for conditions like arthritis & osteoporosis);
- Limited/painful mobility;
- Depression & anxiety; and
Given that seniors more frequently experience conditions like these than younger individuals, it follows that they are prescribed medications such as opioid painkillers and psychoactive drugs at a higher rate. Since these drugs are highly powerful and addictive, they are designed to be taken for short periods of time. When an elderly patient takes a prescription drug for an extended period of time – or at an increasingly high dose – a dependence on the drug may result.
In some cases, negligence on the part of the patient’s healthcare team can directly contribute to this situation. Incorrect dosing of medication, overprescription and misdiagnosis can all be categorized as violations of medical standard of care. In turn, these oversights may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit in certain cases.
Cardinal LifeCare Consulting Assists Medical Malpractice Lawyers Nationwide
To build a strong medical malpractice claim, testimony from a knowledgeable medical expert witness is instrumental. First, this expert will establish what the appropriate medical standard of care was under the circumstances; then, they will provide evidence showing how the medical professional’s failure to meet that standard resulted in harm to the patient. A life care plan can also support a claim by detailing the patient’s care/treatment needs and associated costs following an act of alleged medical negligence such as drug overprescription.
If you are interested in learning more about how these services from Cardinal LifeCare may help to fortify your particular case, reach out to us today at 724-487-0519.