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Indiana Medical Errors and the Duragesic Patch — A Deadly Combination

Jan 30, 2009 | Firm News, Prescription Errors

Indiana doctors are increasingly prescribing the Duragesic patch for pain relief. Unfortunately, these physicians often prescribe the patch without paying heed to the warnings that accompany this potent medication. Those mistakes can lead to death for the patient. The Duragesic patch adheres to the patient’s skin and delivers a drug called fentanyl through the skin to relieve a patient’s pain. Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate which is far more powerful than morphine. The patch remains on the patient for up to 3 days, with fentanyl being transmitted through the skin to the patient for the entire time that the patch is worn.

Because fentanyl is such a powerful drug, doctors must be very careful in prescribing the Duragesic patch. The patch should only be used in patients whose pain cannot be controlled by less potent drugs; who are already receiving and tolerant to opiates such as morphine or oxycodone; and who can be carefully monitored while the patch is initially applied. Additionally, when patients are first started on the Duragesic patch, they should be prescribed the lowest strength patch available. Failure to properly prescribe the Duragesic patch can lead to fatal outcomes.

One of the primary complications of the Duragesic patch is respiratory depression. Respiratory depression can lead to death, and a number of deaths have been reported for patients using the Duragesic patch. Some of these deaths have been linked to defects in the manufacture of the Duragesic patch. The death or serious injury of a patient who has been prescribed the Duragesic patch is obviously a tragedy. Unfortunately, it is frequently a tragedy that could have been avoided. An experienced malpractice attorney can help determine whether medical negligence played a role in such deaths. Contact us today for help.