Most of us don't have medical degrees or enough knowledge to second-guess our doctors' orders. When we are ill, we so greatly depend on medical professionals to provide us with the guidance and prescriptions that we need. Sometimes, that dependence is given to the wrong doctor and a patient winds up paying the price by sustaining preventable injury or even dying.

The Huntsville Times reports on a wrongful death case involving a widower who sued his deceased wife's doctor. His wife was sick and suffered from pain, pain that her doctor attempted to control with various prescription drugs. The widower alleged in his wrongful death case that the doctor was not careful enough with regards to prescribing drugs to his wife. Ultimately, his wife died from a prescription drug overdose at the age of 40.

According to the Alabama lawsuit against the doctor, the patient who died in this case was prescribed the following prescription drugs: Valium, Xanax, Xanaflex, hydrocodone, trileptal, Demerol and Phenergan. The last two listed were to be administered through syringes and the patient was supposed to give herself the injections.

The wrongful death lawsuit accused the doctor of failing to provide instructions on how to properly and safely use some of the medications. Also, the plaintiff believed that his wife shouldn't have been expected nor allowed to inject herself with her drugs. She supposedly didn't have the mental capacity, discipline or medical education to cope with the responsibility of her prescription drugs safely.

A jury in the case recently ruled in favor of the widower, awarding him $500,000 as a result of the loss of his wife to the negligence of her doctor. He probably won't be celebrating his legal success until he knows for sure that the defense's threat to appeal the wrongful death ruling doesn't move forward. The jury announced its judgment last Monday; the defense has 42 days from the verdict to file an appeal.

Prescription drugs can seem safe because they are prescribed by professionals whom patients trust. But they can be extremely dangerous without the proper instructions and guidance. Medical professionals as well as pharmacists need to remember that every day when they send someone home with a prescription.

Source: The Huntsville Times, "Jackson County jury awards $500,000 to widower for wrongful death of wife," Sarah Cure, May 7, 2012