Medico-legal rounds: Medico-legal issues and breaches of "standards of medical care" in opioid tapering for alleged opioid addiction

David A. Fishbain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Objectives. The objectives of this medico-legal case report are the following: 1) To present an example of a medico-legal problem that developed as a result of reports of alleged opioid addiction that resulted in a decision to taper a chronic pain patient (CPP) from opioids; 2) To present both the plaintiff's and defendant's expert witness opinions as to if and how the care of that patient fell below the "standard of medical care"; and 3) Based on these opinions, to develop some recommendations on how, in the future, pain medicine physicians and other physicians should proceed in similar circumstances in order to avoid allegations of breach of "standard of medical care." Design. Case Report Setting. Regional Hospital Pain Clinic Patient. CPP Interventions. Opioid tapering because of aberrant drug-related behaviors (addictive behaviors). Results. During the tapering process, the CPP committed suicide. This had medico-legal consequences. Expert witnesses could not rule out the possibility of pseudoaddiction in this CPP. Conclusion. Further research into the concept of pseudoaddiction is required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-142
Number of pages8
JournalPain Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 26 2002



  • Aberrant drug-related behaviors
  • Addiction
  • Addictive behaviors
  • Drug toxicology screens
  • Expert witness
  • Medico-legal
  • Pseudoaddiction
  • Standards of medical care
  • Suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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