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Overprescribing is a dangerous habit that can endanger patients

On Behalf of | Sep 10, 2023 | Medication Errors

One of the basic functions that a medical professional provides for their patients involves prescribing medications based on their health concerns. There are prescription medications that can help people lose weight or control their blood sugar as well as medications that can assist with mental health challenges and chronic pain.

Doctors serve a safeguarding role regarding those controlled substances. Patients generally cannot access medication without a doctor’s recommendation. Unfortunately, some doctors engage in the practice of overprescribing. Their desire to make treatment convenient for a patient might actually put their health at risk.

Overprescribing takes more than one form

There are multiple ways in which a doctor might overprescribe medication. Perhaps the most egregious would be a scenario in which they recommend an inappropriately high dosage of medication based on someone’s weight, sex and underlying health conditions. People on a high dose of certain medications are more likely to become dependent or to have adverse reactions to treatment.

Overprescribing might also look like writing a prescription for too many pills at once. An individual might only fill a prescription one time but may then have weeks of medication left over when their symptoms subside. Finally, overprescribing can also look like giving someone too many refills, which can also lead to excess medication that someone does not technically need without much medical supervision as they end treatment. In any of those situations, a patient might take more medication than they need or develop a chemical dependence because they begin abusing the medication.

Doctors should avoid overprescribing

A physician should do their best to prescribe an appropriate dosage of medication based on someone’s unique circumstances and to only prescribe what a patient needs to control their symptoms or treat their health condition. Seeing a patient before refilling a prescription could be a crucial step that could help a doctor identify warning signs of someone abusing medication. Regular visits could make it easier for a doctor to taper someone off of a drug that is likely to cause chemical dependence, such as opioid medications or steroids, like prednisone.

Patients struggling with the medical consequences of an addiction or an overdose and families grieving the loss of a loved one likely related to improper prescribing practices may have grounds to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit. Taking legal action against a physician or their employer is often a reasonable response when poor prescribing habits lead to medical consequences for a patient.