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Methadone Overdose Cases & Pharmacist Negligence Cases (Ontario)

Goldfinger Injury Lawyers handle methadone overdose cases, and other cases involving pharmacist negligence.

You might ask: how can this ever happen?

If someone has a prescription, it gets filled with the right drug and the right dosage; and that should be the end of it.

But mistakes happen. And they happen more than you think.

And when those mistakes happen, people can get really sick, or even worse, die.

There is a very negative stigma surrounding overdose cases. People who take illegal drugs are frowned upon. The need for methadone to manage a pre-existing addiction problem has been stigmatized.

This is why coming forward is no easy task. Doctors, family members, nurses and members of the general public often have no sympathy, empathy or understanding for what these people are going through.

Here are some quick facts about Methadone:

  •  Methadone is a synthetic opioid with potent analgesic effects often used for the detoxification or maintenance of an opiate addict.
  • In Canada, it’s usually taken orally mixed with some sort of sweet juice
  • In non-tolerant individuals, just 10 mg is enough to kill a child and 50 mg is enough to kill an adult
  • Methadone overdose can follow an unpredictable course in non- tolerant patients, who are at risk of sudden death
  • All patients with a significant methadone overdose should be admitted to the hospital for at least 24 hours and watch for the development of CNS or Respiratory depression, Non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema
  • Methadone acts for at least 24 hours, much longer than
    other opioids.
  • Early symptoms include nodding off, drowsiness, slurred speech and emotional
    liability. Respiratory depression occurs later
  • If the patient is in a methadone treatment program, the prescribing physician should be informed about the overdose.

People are legally prescribed methadone. Dosages vary depending on the individual.

If the dosage is off, it can present very real dangers and risks to the patient.

Example: Patient “A” is prescribed 15mg of Methadone. Patient “A” presents their prescription to the pharmacist at their local clinic which dispenses methadone. These clinic are often busy places. Instead of dispensing a 15mg dosage, the dosage is 150mg.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that what just happened in this example to Patient “A” is not good. If Patient “A” ingested the full cup, they should immediately attend at their local hospital for treatment. This has the potential to be a lethal dosage if not treated right away.

Regretably for Patient “A”, when s/he arrives the hospital, s/he is labelled an “overdose” case. The immediate reaction is the negative stereotype that Patient “A” took an illegal drug, and, in an attempt to get high, overdosed.

This could not be further from the truth. But unfortunately, that’s the reality of the situation which Patient “A” must deal with. Explaining what happened gets met with a lot of skepticism ie: “here’s another tall tale from a druggie or meth head.” Anyone would hate to be Patient “A” explaining how s/he got in to this mess. It’s embarrassing, difficult and de-humanizing. Patient “A” will have a hard time getting the nurses and doctors to believe their story.0008r_Goldfinger-200x300

But these dispensing mistakes are very real, and happen more than you would think.

When an obvious dispensing mistake happens, the first thing you should do (aside from getting immediate medical attention), is to report the incident to the College of Pharmacists of Ontario.

The College is the regulatory body for pharmacists in Ontario. All pharmacists needs to be licensed through the College, and must answer to them.

There is a simple complaint form on the College website which you can complete. You don’t need a personal injury lawyer like Brian Goldfinger to help you. This is something you can do on your own. But, if you think you need the help of a personal injury lawyer like Brian Goldfinger, feel free to give him a call toll free at 1-877-730-1777 or by way of email at

In any event, once the complaint form has been submitted, the College presumably can begin their investigation. The College has wider search and investigation powers than do ordinary individuals. If the pharmacist or pharmacy did anything wrong, they should act on it an discipline the professional accordingly.

Aside from reporting the over dispensing to the College, you may also want to pursue a legal action (sue) the pharmacist. This is something which Goldfinger Injury Lawyers can help with too.banner-box-logo

Everyone always wants to know how much their case is worth. The value of the case is unique to the individual, his/her injuries and his/her loses. If the patient did not require any significant medical attention and did not sustain any sort of loss, then regardless of the severity of the dispensing error, the value of this case would be lower than if the opposite were true.

It’s disturbing to know that some patients are sent home from methadone clinics with “take home packs“. These are pre-filled packages to be taken by the patient at home so that they don’t need to attend at the clinic. If the wrong dosage is applied in theses take home packs, the effect to the patient can be lethal. Harder is for the family of the deceased patient to explain that the death was linked to their prescription methadone and illegal drug use. It again goes to that negative stigma which attaches to addicts trying to explain their medical problems.

Waiting too long to pursue a claim against your pharmacy or pharmacist can be detrimental. These aren’t the sort of cases which can be sat on for years and years without any action. When you know of an overdose on account of a pharmacist’s negligence, you tend to know immediately given the effects which the medication will have on your body. Waiting too long to start a claim may result in a limitation period lapsing. That means that the patient hasn’t commenced his/her claim within the prescribed statutory time frame. That means that the case will fail before it even has any real shot of getting off the ground.




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