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TO THE EDITOR: News of the OxyContin settlement in the May 21 issue of Business Insurance is quite bittersweet for those in the claims business. While the prosecuting entities took aim at the manufacturer, waving a flag of righteousness, they missed some other very critical targets.
I'm certain it is because they sought the easiest route to $635 million rather than actually correcting the problem. Here is a thought: How about the doctors who have continually prescribed these pills in an incredibly irresponsible manner? Were they just duped by the drug company sales pitch? If they are gullible enough to be swayed by a drug salesperson, then should they be allowed to practice medicine? If they are ignorant enough to continue prescribing this type of medicine in spite of patients getting progressively more "disabled" rather than healing, aren't they committing malpractice or some illegal act?
I was astounded at the statistic from Washington State's Department of Labor attributing 40 to 60 deaths of injured workers to OxyContin in the last eight years. Consider if any employer in Washington State had 40 to 60 work-related deaths from the same cause over the last eight years--wouldn't OSHA be interested in that problem? Why then can't something be done to these doctors?
I, for one, am culling my client files and wherever OxyContin and its like are in use, I will take defense counsel to task in using statistics and findings from the recent litigation as cross-examination material. Let's put these doctors on the stand and let them try to justify this obviously horrible practice. Let's awaken workers comp judges from their lax willingness to accept whatever treatment plan rogue doctors recommend in spite of non-results. Let's draw a clear line with OxyContin. We in the industry have an opportunity to change this ourselves. The other agencies that should be responsible seem only interested in deep pockets, not your local problems.
Barry E. Thompson
Risk Acuity Inc.