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Doctor faces both criminal charges and wrongful death suits

Readers in Houston might be interested in a recent story about a doctor who is facing involuntary manslaughter charges after he allegedly prescribed large amounts of painkillers to eight patients who fatally overdosed. The doctor also faces four medical malpractice suits, three of which are wrongful death suits.

One of the eight patients was identified as Paul Gray, a founder of the rock band Slipknot. Gray died in 2010 due to an overdose. According to court documents, it is alleged that the doctor caused Gray's death by giving "high-dose prescription narcotics to a known drug addict."

The state board of medicine filed administrative charges against him last month. The board alleges that he did not properly assess patients' needs for medication before prescribing them large quantities of addictive drugs and other narcotics. Health officials have suspended the doctor from practicing medicine.

When it comes to medication errors, doctors can sometimes try to point to other reasons, such as the patient's nondisclosure, as the cause. But often, medication error cases are preventable and are rarely the patient's fault. Rather, some preventable medication errors can result because of a medical professional did not take enough time to research a patient's health history; a physician writing illegible prescriptions or medication orders; a doctor being unaware that an allergen is part of a drug's composition, resulting in an allergic reaction; or a nurse failing to give a patient the proper dosage, resulting in an overdose. These medical errors can result in wrongful deaths, causing families to suffer a loss of a loved one.

Some of the most common medical negligence and malpractice cases stem from preventable medication errors resulting in wrongful death. If more medical professionals would take the time to implement standardized medical procedures, many of those cases would be prevented.

Source: Chron.com, "Iowa doctor charged with 8 counts of manslaughter," Sept. 5, 2012

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