Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Allegations of over-prescription of methadone end in $490K settlement

Allegations of over-prescription of methadone end in $490K settlement

Medical negligence action brought by the estate of a 48-year-old woman with a history of fibromyalgia and chronic pain, survived by husband and four adult children. On her first and only visit to this pain-management physician, defendant conducted a urine drug screen, which was negative for illicit drugs and also negative for opiods, including methadone.

The highest previous dosage of methadone the patient had ever been prescribed was 20 mg per day, and the patient had run out of the medication. Plaintiff alleged that as evidenced by the drug screen performed by the defendant, the patient did not have any methadone in her system and was not taking methadone at that time. Plaintiff alleged that the defendant erroneously charted that patient was currently taking 80 mg of methadone per day, and upped the dosage to 90 mg per day.

Patient then began taking the 90 mg of methadone per day as prescribed and was found unresponsive by husband in their home some two days later. At an autopsy, methadone toxicity was cited as the cause of the patient’s death. Plaintiff contended that the pill count taken by the medical examiner’s office showed that the patient had taken the 90 mg of methadone per day as prescribed by defendant.

Defendant contended that he knew the patient had been out of methadone for quite some time and purposefully prescribed 90 mg of methadone per day. Plaintiff countered that 90 mg of methadone is enough to kill most patients not already taking methadone and with no methadone in their system, and that 90 mg of methadone per day in such a patient creates an extremely high risk of mortality. On this basis, plaintiff sought to amend his complaint to add a claim for punitive damages. The case was resolved before this motion was heard.


Settlement Report

Type of action: Wrongful death/medical negligence. Allegedly fatal over-prescription of methadone to a pain patient.

Injuries alleged: Death

Case name: Confidential

Case number: Confidential

Court: Confidential

Verdict or settlement: Settlement

Date: Confidential

Amount: $490,000

Special damages: Wife and mother of four adult children. Not employed at the time of death.   

Insurer: Confidential   

Experts: Confidential

Plaintiff’s attorney: Karen M. Rabenau and Donald R. Strickland of Twiggs, Beskind, Strickland & Rabenau (Raleigh)

Editor’s note: The information in Lawyers Weekly’s verdicts and settlements reports was submitted by the counsel for the prevailing party and represents the attorney’s characterization of the case.


Top Legal News

See All Top Legal News


See All Commentary