Thousands of Medicare Beneficiaries at Risk for Opioid Abuse

According to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services, there are grave concerns about the possibility of opioid abuse among about half a million Medicare beneficiaries in the United States. These seniors receive large amounts of painkillers, such as hydrocodone, codeine, and oxycodone, with almost 90,000 Medicare Part D enrollees at “serious risk” of opioid abuse. The OIG recently released a report detailing these findings, as well as airing its concerns about questionable prescribing practices among at least 400 healthcare providers.

Nonetheless, there is a consensus that in appropriate cases, health care providers should and do prescribe painkillers to patients in order to lessen the pain of a debilitating medical condition. Using opioids as prescribed can help some elderly people maintain a relatively independent level of functioning. The ability to care for one’s self and not be totally reliant on others can be a powerful tool in avoiding illness and a general decline in an individual’s overall medical condition.

While most people have heard of the opioid crisis rising to unprecedented levels in America today, you may think of the elderly as individuals involved in that crisis. However, the OIG report tells a different story. With roughly one in three Medicare Part D enrollees receiving a prescription opioid in 2016, senior citizens are just as at risk of drug dependency and abuse as other individuals. Additionally, senior citizens using large amounts of opioids are at a higher risk of confusion, falls, adverse drug interactions, and broken bones, which can definitely lead to a declining medical condition.

The opioid epidemic is a major issue in many long-term care facilities today. Don’t allow a negligent healthcare provider to unnecessarily medicate your loved one. The Wisconsin healthcare injury attorneys of Boller & Vaughan know how to stand up for the rights of those who have been injured at the hands of those individuals and institutions who are supposed to be caring for your loved one. We will help you hold the perpetrators financially responsible for their actions. Contact us online or call (608) 268-0268 to set up an appointment for us to assist you with your legal needs.


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