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Hospital Patients Left with Pain

Posted on March 12, 2018

While opioids are fueling addiction in communities across America, today’s Washington Post reported on another lesser known opioid problem: the widespread shortage of these painkillers in our nation’s hospitals. In addition to leaving patients in pain, the shortage has had dangerous consequences, leading to medical errors as providers work with less familiar drugs.

With drugs like injectable morphine Dilaudid and fentanyl being less available due to manufacturing setbacks and government restrictions aimed at reducing addiction, hospitals are forced to administer alternative pain medications with potentially life-threatening effects. The article reported instances of a patient given five times the appropriate amount of morphine and another who received too much sufentanil.

Emergency Rooms are especially affected. The article reported that some are considering nitrous oxide, known as laughing gas, to help patients manage pain. Others have had trauma patients waiting as long as 30 minutes for pain relief because the more powerful drugs are reserved for surgeries.

A coalition of medical groups have petitioned the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to loosen restrictions on liquid opioids to increase access for hospitals. In the meantime, hospitals are postponing elective surgeries, rationing medications and researching alternatives.

If you or a loved one experienced undue pain and suffering in an Emergency Room, consider consulting with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. We welcome you to contact us anytime.