Do I have a fentanyl patch claim?

An opioid is a potent pain medicine, sometimes called a narcotic drug. Examples of opioids include hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid analgesic drug one hundred times more powerful than morphine. Its chemical structure makes it a very fast acting, and short acting pain medication. For that reason, fentanyl used intravenously (by injection) is quickly replacing morphine as a post-operative pain management tool. Fentanyl also comes in a transdermal patch, much like a nicotine patch, to deliver a continuous stream of the drug through the skin. This allows a patient to receive the benefits of the drug over a 72 hour period, and defeats the drugs natural tendency to “clear” the system quickly.

The benefits of the fentanyl transdermal patch for patients with chronic pain, often from terminal cancers, who have developed a tolerance to weaker opiates are impressive. However, the fentanyl patch is extremely dangerous when prescribed for patients who have not built up a tolerance to opiates. Fentanyl delivered through the skin accumulates in the body, reaching its peak levels 12-24 hours after the patch is first placed. The high levels of fentanyl frequently cause respiratory suppression and death.

What makes the fentanyl overdose case unique?

The FDA has issued warnings about the fentanyl transdermal system.  The directions on the product label and package insert of the fentanyl transdermal system should be followed exactly in order to avoid overdose. Fentanyl patches should not be used for short-term acute pain, pain that is not constant, or for pain after an operation. The patch is only for moderate-to-severe chronic pain that is expected to last for any number of weeks or longer and that cannot be managed by acetaminophen-opioid combinations, nonsteroidal analgesics, or as-needed dosing with short-acting opioids. Fentanyl patches are mostly prescribed for patients with cancer. Recent reports to FDA describe deaths and life-threatening side effects after doctors and other health care professionals inappropriately prescribed the patch to relieve pain after surgery, for headaches, or for occasional or mild pain in patients who were not opioid tolerant.

In other cases, patients have used the patch incorrectly. The patients replaced the patch more frequently than directed in the instructions, applied more patches than prescribed, or applied heat to the patch. All of these cases resulted in dangerously high fentanyl levels in the blood. Unfortunately, because the fentanyl patch is so effective for chronic pain patients, some doctors will prescribe it in plainly inappropriate circumstances, such as for post-surgical pain, often with devastating results. Chalat Hatten Koupal & Banker has a history of handling fentanyl overdose cases. By consulting with local physicians who specialize in pain-management issues, we are working to hold doctors responsible for favoring expediency over patient safety.

What to expect from a fentanyl patch lawsuit

For fentanyl overdose victims, the harm can be catastrophic, even fatal. For those cases, victims may suffer months of lost income, permanent nerve or muscle damage, and large medical bills. For the families who have lost a loved one from a fentanyl patch overdose, a wrongful death claim may be the only option for compensation. You should seek compensation for economic losses such as medical expenses (including those paid by your medical insurance provider) and loss wages for both the past and future.

These are typically expenses easily supported by documents, such as payroll stubs and medical bills.  More challenging are the losses for which there are no hard measure – a permanently impaired body or the diminished ability to enjoy life are losses that also deserve valuation.  Both the economic losses and the non-economic injuries are legitimate elements of the damages for which you deserve compensation. Read more about damages.

For answers about your fentanyl overdose claim, call for a free consultation

Chalat Hatten & Banker is dedicated to helping individuals who have suffered serious injuries, including individuals who have suffered injuries due to fentanyl overdose and other dangerous drugs.  Unlike the nationwide referral firms you see on TV or the internet, the lawyers at Chalat Hatten & Banker will personally handle your case from start to finish.  With Chalat Hatten & Banker, PC, you will have a local lawyer who will pick up the phone, discuss your case with you, meet with you face to face, and respond to your emails.

Chalat Hatten & Banker has secured some of the biggest verdicts in Colorado history on behalf of our clients, including the largest medical malpractice verdict in the state for 2007 ($10.1 M), and the largest automobile accident judgment in the state for 2010 ($18.2 M). Individuals who have suffered a fentanyl overdose need a local, experienced lawyer who will answer the phone and help them obtain the compensation they deserve – they don’t need to be passed off on a paralegal or a “case manager” who is not a real lawyer.  Call a local, Colorado-based lawyer and get the personal service you need – call Chalat Hatten & Banker today.