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Prescribing dangerous drug may be medical malpractice

Childhood illnesses are common, and doctors treat them routinely. Parents in New York can expect to deal with a child's colds, flus and viruses periodically, and may trust a doctor to prescribe medicine for pain and other symptoms. However, when research has shown that certain drugs may be harmful to a child, it is expected that physicians would heed those warnings. When they do not, they risk injuring a child and facing a medical malpractice suit.

On more than one occasion over the past few years, research has shown that the use of codeine in children's cough medicine may be dangerous. Codeine cough medicine has been a drug of choice for many doctors to treat pain in children who have had their tonsils removed. Past studies have shown that the codeine may not be an effective remedy for pain or coughs, and that it may have negative side effects. Nevertheless, some pediatricians continued to prescribe codeine for children.

The most recent study was released from the American Academy of Pediatrics, and it repeats warnings in a Food and Drug Administration report. The studies concur that codeine is probably ineffective for pain relief, but in some children, it may even be dangerous. Research shows that a certain percentage of people metabolize the drug too quickly, causing extreme sleepiness and difficulty breathing. An FDA review noted that 21 children have died after taking codeine in the past 50 years, and 64 children suffered serious breathing complications.

The authors of the report urge doctors to discontinue prescribing codeine for children. One of the report's authors even goes so far as to say that it would be better for children to be in pain than to risk the potential side effects of the drug. With so many reports and studies exposing of the dangers of codeine, doctors in New York may face medical malpractice claims if a child is injured because a physician ignore the warnings.

Source: foxnews.com, "MDs strengthen advice against codeine for kids' coughs, pain", Sept. 19, 2016

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