‘Pill Mill’ Doctor Responsible For Patient’s Opioid Consumption

The opioid crisis has been sweeping the nation, leaving human wreckage in its wake. This crisis can be blamed at least in part on doctors who over-prescribe pain pills without taking proper precautions against the risk of addiction. A jury in Missouri recently said “enough” and held a St. Louis doctor liable for malpractice for prescribing more than 37,000 pain pills over a 4-year period to a patient with a back injury. The case involved a city maintenance worker who was in his thirties when he sought treatment for chronic lower back pain a decade ago. According to the lawsuit, his primary care physician Henry Walden immediately began opioid therapy of “unfixed duration” rather than seeking other treatment options. The dosage steadily increased over the next four years. When the patient began this treatment in 2008, he was taking 54 milligrams of narcotics per day. By 2012, he was taking more than 1,500 milligrams per day. These drugs included OxyContin, Oxycodone and Vicodin. The doctor also apparently did not monitor the patient’s treatment. According to the patient, he suffered severe addiction as a result, which cost him his marriage and permanently destroyed his other family relationships. This case may represent an extreme situation, but opioid addiction is increasingly common. And it doesn’t take a “pill mill” physician like Walden to trigger severe addiction. Well-meaning physicians can easily fall into the trap of overprescribing opioids too. If they violate standards of professional care in doing so, they can also be held accountable just like the doctor in St. Louis. So if you or a loved one is showing signs of opioid addiction and you have questions about the treatment plan, you should talk to an attorney to see what kinds of rights you might have.


About John Fagan

John is a Jacksonville native who grew up on the First Coast. He graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in 1975 and went to college at Florida State University where he completed a 4-year program in 3 years. John graduated from the Florida State University College of Business in 1978 and went straight into Florida State University College of Law. While in law school, John earned a position on the prestigious Law Review Board serving as its Business Editor. As a law student, John studied in the Oxford program. He also interned with the Florida Legislature working in the Florida House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee. John was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1981. John began his legal career as a law school intern in the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville in 1981. After his internship, legendary State Attorney Ed Austin hired John as a full-time Assistant State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Clay, Duval, and Nassau Counties). As a prosecutor, John tried jury and non-jury trial on charges ranging from DUI to Murder. In 1983, John moved from the State Attorney's Office to begin his career in private practice. He has practiced law for 30 years on the First Coast. For the last 20 years, John and his family have made Clay County their home. John limits his practice to personal injury and disability cases. While there are many fine attorneys in Clay County, John is one of only a few Clay County attorneys who limit their practice to personal injury and disability cases. John takes pride in helping clients resolve injury claims in ways that avoid the stress, uncertainty, and the expense of unnecessary litigation. Professional Activities John is the past President of the Clay County Bar Association and has served on the Board of the Clay County Bar Association from 2009-2013. He is an active member of the Florida Bar, and the Federal Bar of the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. He is also a member of the American Association of Justice, the Florida Association of Justice, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, and the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates. Service to the Community John is involved in the Clay County Community serving as a member and Director of the Rotary Club of Orange Park, of the Clay County Bar Association, and the Putnam County Bar Association.
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