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Ohio women sue government for medical negligence

Two Ohio women recently submitted a medical malpractice claim, naming the federal government as the defendant. Both women lost their husbands due to prescription drug overdoses upon their return from active military duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both of the men received prescriptions for powerful painkillers and other medication after returning to Ohio with severe back pain and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The widows allege that the Veterans Administration gave their late husbands very large amounts of dangerous drugs for their pain, even when one of the veterans reportedly informed the prescribing physician that he was not comfortable taking so much medication. The doctor reportedly refilled his prescription without any changes and sent the man to retrieve it from the VA pharmacy. The former military member died from an inadvertent overdose the following day.

The lawsuit accuses the doctors of not only excessively prescribing a number of medications, but also placing the men on a potentially dangerous combination of prescriptions without warning them. One of the plaintifffs appeared before a legislative committee to share her story, asserting that medical staff negligently failed to administer tests that could have prevented her husband's death, as well as hundreds or thousands of additional fatalities and injuries. The committee thanked her for her story and pledged to address the claims, though some critics, including members of the committee themselves, commented on government committees' failure to act on similar issues in the past.

Lawmakers have aware of an over-prescribing problem with the VA for at least several years; researchers found that veterans receiving care from the VA were twice as likely to suffer a fatal prescription drug overdose compared to civilian patients.

Thousands of Ohio residents, both enlisted soldiers and civilians, rely on prescription medication for severe health problems. While many medical experts make prescriptions with care and ensure their patients fully understand the effects and possible risks of those medications, other doctors prescribe high-grade painkillers and other potent drugs with little consideration to their patients' reactions. Such patients or their loved ones may be entitled to monetary damages through a medical malpractice or negligence lawsuit.

Source:, "Army Widows Prepare for Legal Action" Ted Hart, Nov. 07, 2013

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