What Can I Do?

 

 
What is Methadone? Why Did He Die? What Can I Do?


What Can I Do?

Clinic deaths:  Report the death to the State Methadone Authority

Each state has a methadone authority which acts to help regulate methadone clinics.  The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) is the federal organization that provides accreditation oversight to methadone clinics. SAMHSA and CSAT are federal agencies that regulate methadone clinics. If you want to help to increase safe dosing of methadone in clinics, write to the State Methadone Authority in the state where the methadone clinic is located.  You do not have to know all the details of your loved one’s death:  just alert the methadone authority of the death and ask that they investigate the practices of the clinic.  Good clinics are transparent and welcome state and federal oversight.  In North Carolina, report the death to:

 

Spencer Clark, A.C.S.W.

Director of Adult Substance Abuse Services

Substance Abuse Services Section

Mailing Address: 3007 Mail Service Ctr.

Delivery Address: 325 North Salisbury St.

Raleigh, NC 27699-3007

Phone: (919) 733-4670

Fax: (919) 733-9455

Email: spencer.clark@ncmail.net 

Clinic deaths:  Report the death to the Area Mental Health Authority

In North Carolina, Area Mental Health Authorities work with the methadone clinics to provide services.  The Area Mental Health Authority in your county is interested in learning about deaths occurring in methadone clinics.  To find your Area Mental Health Authority, look in the blue pages of your phone book under your county’s name.    

Clinic deaths:  Report the death to CARF

The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) is the federal organization that provides regulatory oversight to methadone clinics.  Write to CARF and let them know your loved one died after taking methadone.  Give your loved one’s name, the date he died and the name of the clinic.  If you know, tell CARF how long your loved one took methadone.  Write CARF at:

 

CARF International

4891 E. Grant Road

Tucson, AZ 85712

(888) 281.6531 toll free

(520) 325.1044

(520) 318.1129 fax

 

Physician office deaths:  Write to the State Medical Board

Each state has a medical board which licenses physicians.  Medical boards are interested in knowing whether there are trends in patient deaths from a single drug such as methadone, so that they can respond with increased information or education.  Medical boards are also charged with disciplining physicians who practice in unsafe ways.  While a methadone death does not necessarily mean that a physician practiced in an unsafe way, the medical board is in a good position to receive this information and investigate why patients are dying.  You can locate the medical board in your state by using the internet.  The North Carolina Medical Board can be reached at:

 

N.C. Medical Board

P.O. Box 20007

Raleigh, NC 27619-0007

(800) 253.9653

(919) 326.1100

(919) 326.1109

(919) 326.0036 fax

 

Clinic or physician office deaths

Prescribed methadone can be given in a safe manner.  Although methadone has risks, patient deaths should rarely occur if methadone is given safely by the doctor or clinic.  Some clinics have reported a high number of deaths.  Clinics and regulatory agencies should investigate these deaths to assure that the clinic is operating and dosing methadone safely.  In some cases, deaths occur because a clinic or physician was negligent.

 

The law provides that physicians who prescribe or give methadone to their patients have certain responsibilities to protect their patients.  Phyllis Lile-King has represented families of patients who died after taking methadone and has filed lawsuits for methadone deaths.

 

Is a lawsuit the right thing to do?

There is an ongoing debate about whether lawsuits are the right thing to do.  At our firm, we do not file suit for every methadone death.  Many times, the law does not provide a remedy for a methadone death.  But in some cases, the death occurred because a physician or clinic was not careful and made a mistake.  Doctors are trained to know how to give a safe dose of methadone.  Some deaths occur when a clinic or doctor gives a methadone dose that is too high.  Some deaths occur because the methadone dose is increased too quickly.  Sometimes a pharmacy puts the wrong medication in the bottle or writes the wrong dosing instructions for the patient.  Clinics and physicians have obligations to give accurate and complete information to patients about methadone.  In these cases and others, a lawsuit might be the right thing to do.  If a clinic has to pay for a fatal mistake, we believe it will institute safer practices in the future.  A lawsuit just might save the next life.

 

Contact us for additional information about methadone, lawsuits, medical malpractice or wrongful death from methadone.