Hip Replacement Patients Still Taking Prescription Painkillers Long After Surgery

There has recently been a lot of attention in the media paid to the growing problem with opioid addiction in the nation.  We have seen thousands of deaths from accidental overdoses of narcotic painkillers, and the problem is only getting worse, with patients getting access to more and more powerful drugs.

perscription-drugs-2-1160103-m-300x225Recently, it has been reported that singer Prince died as result of an accidental overdose of Fentanyl.   Fentanyl is one of the most powerful opioid painkillers on the market and is typically used for patients with advanced stage cancer and things like bone pain.  This particular narcotic is far more potent and dangerous than heroin.

Patients who undergo a total hip replacement are often given narcotic painkillers following surgery, and while they help with the pain, they are supposed to be used only for a short period of time, and then patient is supposed to switch to an over-the-counter medication and eventually stop taking all pain medication.  However, as discussed in a recent article from Tech Times, new studies are showing that patients are still getting these powerful narcotics from their doctors and taking them months after the surgery.  This is leading to addiction and other problems associated with long term use of narcotics, including hallucinations and psychosis in the worst cases.

If a patient takes opioids for an extended period of time, he or she develops a tolerance to the drugs, and that means that more powerful doses and more powerful drugs are needed.  For example, a patient taking Percocet may switch to Darvocet, which is typically much more powerful. It has been reported that Prince started taking painkillers for an injury to his hip and became addicted to much more powerful narcotic medications over time.  The day before he accidentally overdosed on Fentanyl, one of his staff had called an addiction specialist to help him through this difficult time, but unfortunately he did not arrive in time, and Prince was found dead in an elevator in his home.

There is no question that a hip replacement operation can leave a patient in substantial pain, and there is no question that opioid medications may be necessary, but they should only be taken for as long as needed and used sparingly, as the pain should not last that long when a surgery is performed properly, as it nearly always is, and a properly designed device was implanted in the patient during surgery.  This is where our hip replacement injury attorneys have seen major problems.

For example, the Pinnacle ASR hip, manufactured by a company called DePuy was designed with a metal-on-metal joint.  The purpose of this joint was supposedly to allow for smoother movement so patients could lead a more active life.  However, the joint was defectively designed and not properly tested before being placed on the market.   This resulted in serious device failure.  In some cases, the metal would emit shavings that would enter the patient’s bloodstream and cause a type of poisoning known as metalosis.

Call the Boston Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers for a free and confidential appointment — (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:

Many Patients Continue To Take Prescription Opioid Painkiller Months After Hip, Knee Replacement, June 4, 2016, Tech Times, By Rhodi Lee

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