Hall Booth Smith Creates Opioid Task Force to Defend Malpractice Claims

In response to the rising opioid overdose and death epidemic and related surge in litigation, Hall Booth Smith, P.C. created an Opioid Defense Task Force to work with health care providers to deter and defend against opioid prescription malpractice claims.

The HBS Opioid Task Force blog will feature regular blog posts discussing topics such as best practices for healthcare providers, practice groups and hospitals that prescribe and dispense opioids to ensure that they have effective policies and procedures in place about the types and amounts of medications being subscribed in addition to patient monitoring.

In starting the task force, our message to physicians and healthcare systems is clear: Don’t wait until you are sued to evaluate your opioid practices and procedures.

“The best way to prevent and defend against litigation is to implement and adhere to best practices long before a complaint is made,” said Jeff Saxby, partner at HBS. “These methods can also enhance a physician’s clinical judgment and increase alertness to opioid addition risk.”

HBS attorneys specializing in opioid malpractice defense will work with healthcare providers, insurers, pharmaceutical companies and other experts in related fields on both a national and local level to comprehensively cover emerging issues and changes in regulatory, compliance, law enforcement, case law and jury verdict precedents. We will include first-hand accounts from attorneys and practitioners who have faced opioid prescription-related litigation, and notable learnings from those cases.

The blog will also address evolving requirements for Schedule II and III opioids and narcotics, prescription drug reporting requirements through monitoring programs including through the Georgia Department of Public Health’s PMPAware system, healthcare privacy (HIPAA) and patient file confidentiality issues, patient file maintenance and reporting recommendations from recognized organizations such as the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws (NAMSDL).

HBS attorneys will also describe and address common legal issues such as the key differences between medical board investigations and medical board hearings, peer reviews of a physician’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) reports, how to reduce exposure to criminal charges and malpractice claims, and the proper scope of investigatory subpoenas.

One recent post to the HBS Opioid Task Force blog reviewed a $15 million punitive damage award in a case in St. Louis in which the jury found that a physician who had prescribed 40,000 pills in increasing dosages of OxyContin and other opioids exceeded the Center for Disease Control’s safety guidelines by 1,000%.
The jury deliberated for only three hours before awarding the patient, a maintenance worker with persistent back pain, $1.4 million in compensatory damages. The patient’s wife was awarded $1.2 million for loss of consortium, and the jury made a $15 million punitive damage award against the prescribing physician.

The St. Louis case illustrates the financial risk of litigation in this era of record opioid deaths that top 33,000 a year and climbing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It also underscores the acute need for expertly structured and vetted policies for healthcare providers that reduce their risk before it can occur.

Established in 1989, Hall Booth Smith, P.C. (HBS) is a full-service law firm with six regional offices strategically located throughout Georgia, as well as offices in Charleston, South Carolina; Asheville and Charlotte, North Carolina; Jacksonville and North Palm Beach, Florida; and Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee. Experienced across a wide range of legal disciplines, HBS attorneys pride themselves on providing knowledgeable, proactive, client-specific counsel to individuals, domestic and international corporations, state and federal agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Hall Booth Smith maintains the highest commitment to serve its clients ethically and professionally by providing the highest quality legal representation. The firm’s promise: “Serving to Achieve Excellence.” Learn more at www.hallboothsmith.com.