Personal Injury Attorneys Russ Hymas and Ken ChristensenA young father is dead, allegedly due to a medically prescribed over-dose of methadone, a pain-relieving drug.  The man’s surviving heirs, his parents and his child, filed a wrongful death claim against the Utah medical doctor who prescribed the medication; with the aid of the Utah personal injury lawyers at Christensen & Hymas, the doctor’s insurance company, the Utah Medical Insurance Association, settled out of court for an undisclosed settlement amount.  The prevalence and increasing number of methadone-related deaths have caused the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue an alert and warning of the dangers associated with the drug.  They urge prescribing doctors to “be familiar with methadone’s toxicities and unique pharmacological properties,” which may cause “death, narcotic overdose, and serious cardiac arrhythmia.”

A young father is dead, allegedly due to a medically prescribed over-dose of methadone, a pain-relieving drug.  The man’s surviving heirs, his parents and his child, filed a wrongful death claim against the Utah medical doctor who prescribed the medication; with the aid of the Utah personal injury lawyers at Christensen & Hymas, the doctor’s insurance company, the Utah Medical Insurance Association, settled out of court for an undisclosed settlement amount.  The prevalence and increasing number of methadone-related deaths have caused the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue an alert and warning of the dangers associated with the drug.  They urge prescribing doctors to “be familiar with methadone’s toxicities and unique pharmacological properties,” which may cause “death, narcotic overdose, and serious cardiac arrhythmia.”

The decedent’s surviving parents and child knew something had gone wrong when, after only two days of taking the medication, their respective son and father had died.  They decided to pursue legal help.  They hired Ken Christensen of Christensen & Hymas, a Utah-based personal injury law firm, to aid them in this delicate matter.  After investigating and pursuing the claim, attorney Ken Christensen settled with the Utah Medical Insurance Association—their insured was the medical doctor who had prescribed significant doses of methadone—for an undisclosed settlement amount.

According to the Rocky Mountain Verdicts & Settlements, the young father was prescribed “360 pills with a dosage of 10mg. of methadone per pill.” Further, “he had ingested only 18 tablets since the prescription was purchased, a number within the maximum dosage authorized by [the doctor’s] prescription.”  The report continues, “The lawsuit alleged that doctors prescribing methadone are to start with small dosages, then adjust upward according to the needs and tolerance of the patient.”  The FDA agrees.  They state, “Methadone doses for pain should be carefully selected and slowly titrated to analgesic effect even in patients who are opioid-tolerant.  Physicians should closely monitor patients when converting them from other opioids and changing the methadone dose, and thoroughly instruct patients how to take methadone.”

“The decedent’s heirs received the undisclosed settlement amount, but no amount of money could ever bring back their loved one,” Christensen said. “The seriousness of the effects of methadone, coupled with the increase in prescriptions being filled, call for scrutinizing methadone itself.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that “methadone is a narcotic drug indicated for the treatment of pain and for the treatment of opioid dependence.”  It is on the rise among prescribing doctors.  “All forms of methadone distribution (tablets, diskettes, and solution) continue to rise, with the greatest rise in distribution coming from tablets distributed through pharmacies.”  The growing trends in methadone prescription and use correspond to increasing rates of methadone deaths.  Compared to the increase in overall poisoning deaths (8 percent), methadone-related deaths increased 16 percent.

The major concerns with methadone fall into three categories: methadone’s half-life, it’s cross-tolerance with other opioids, and the fact that “methadone can cause serious cardiac conduction effects” and “respiratory depression.”  The half-life of methadone outlasts its relief on pain.  This simply means that methadone’s pain relieving affect will wear off long before its actual chemicals leave the body.  This can result in over toxicity in the body—being stored in the liver and slowly released over time—which can lead to “death, narcotic overdose, and serious cardiac arrhythmia.”  The second category of concern is cross-tolerance with other opioids.  The high level of toxicity in methadone is already an issue, but when mixed with other strong chemicals found in similar drugs, the created concoction is a chemical cocktail the body simply cannot cope with, and often will succumb to.  The third level of concern is the effect on the heart and lungs.  Methadone causes irregular palpitations in both the heart and lungs.  The drug, if ingested in significant doses, can slow the heart’s beat until it finally stops and may depress the lungs ability to take in air that they leave the patient short of breath.

Another concern of taking methadone is directed towards nursing mothers.  The FDA reports that “methadone is secreted into human milk…babies can experience the same serious side effects from methadone as the mother.”

Attorney Christensen states that, “methadone is a serious drug with serious consequences and should be treated as such.  Before ingesting methadone, it is wise to obtain multiple opinions from seasoned medical professionals; as shown here, one doctor’s opinion may not be enough.”

 

About: Christensen & Hymas, Personal Injury Lawyer in Utah

The personal injury attorneys at Christensen & Hymas represent clients who have been injured in car accidents, Utah bicycle accidents, dog bites, or a client who has lost a loved one in a wrongful death in Utah.  They have won cases amounting to millions of dollars, which have ultimately enabled those who have been injured to better deal with the effects of personal tragedy that accompanies wrongful injuries. They have also written multiple free accident books, covering in great detail how to handle a personal injury and the repercussions therefrom.

For a free consultation with a Utah personal injury attorney, call Christensen & Hymas today at (801) 506-0800 or visit their website at https://www.christensenhymas.com/.

 

Christensen & Hymas:

Main Office — 11693 S. 700 E. Ste. 100, Draper, UT 84020 — (801) 506-0800 — Fax: (801) 506-0801

Utah County Office — 584 S State Street, Orem, UT 84058 — (801) 224-2999

Davis County Office — 503 West 2600 South #200, Bountiful, UT 84010 — (801) 294-9500

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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