Dangerous Medications Doctors Still Prescribe in Chicago

Posted on August 04, 2023

The most dangerous medications that doctors still prescribe include opioids, benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and stimulants. These drugs can have significant side effects when misused and even when used correctly. Doctors who act negligently when prescribing medications in Chicago can be held liable for the adverse reactions that patients experience. Read on to learn more about these dangerous medications.

The Dangers of Prescription Drugs

People might assume that drugs prescribed by healthcare providers are entirely safe. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Prescription drugs are helpful in many ways. Nevertheless, they pose significant risks. They can be as powerful as street drugs. These are some of their biggest dangers:

Severe Side Effects

One danger of prescription drugs is the development of serious side effects that patients haven’t been warned about by their doctors. These side effects can sometimes be permanent or fatal. New prescription drugs, for instance, have a 1 in 5 chance of causing severe reactions after regulators approve them. One analysis found that about a third of new drugs that the Food and Drug Administration approves end up with warnings about unforeseen and even life-threatening side effects several years later.

According to Harvard University researchers, systematic reviews have found that even correctly prescribed drugs cause around 1.9 million hospitalizations annually. About 128,000 individuals die from prescribed medications, making these drugs a significant health risk. According to the Lown Institute, about 750 older people are hospitalized every day due to severe side effects from prescribed medications.

Some prescription drugs end up causing more health issues than they solve. Sometimes, people suffer serious side effects because of the failure of doctors to review a drug’s risks in light of a patient’s overall health before prescribing them. For example, a doctor may prescribe a drug that pregnant women shouldn’t take to a pregnant patient. A doctor may also fail to take the right steps to properly advise a patient about the warning signs of potential side effects.

An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can help you pursue damages if you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury because of a drug prescribed by a doctor.

The Risk of Overdose

Prescription medication also presents the risk of overdose. A person may exhibit physical or behavioral signs when his or her body can’t process a high dose of a drug. The exact symptoms of overdose vary from one drug to another. Opioid overdose, for example, commonly causes hypoventilation, also known as respiratory depression. Overdoses could lead to comas, brain damage, organ failure, and death.

A patient may have intended to use a prescription drug correctly. However, the patient may end up misusing it because of a doctor’s poor communication with the patient, failing to provide clear instructions, a doctor recommending the wrong dosage, or a pharmacist making an error when dispensing the prescribed medication. You may have grounds to sue for medical malpractice.


Prescription drugs can also cause addiction. Some prescription drugs have powerful substances that affect a patient’s physiology and cause the individual to become dependent on the drug. This also increases the risk of misuse. A patient may have to receive addiction treatment to overcome the withdrawal symptoms safely.

Over-prescription by medical professionals is a common cause of prescription drug addiction. For example, fentanyl and oxycodone help patients manage pain. However, their widespread over-prescription has resulted in unprecedented addiction.

Dangerous Drug Interactions

Some prescription drugs can have dangerous interactions in the body, leading to injuries or health problems. A doctor may prescribe a combination of drugs that are dangerous when taken together. Sometimes, a doctor may fail to review a patient’s information and prescribe a new drug that can have harmful interactions with the medication the patient is already taking.

Dangerous drug interactions that lead to injuries often stem from the medical profession’s over prescribing culture. While prescribing multiple drugs at once may be necessary in some cases, there are cases where physicians prescribe unnecessary or too many drugs. That increases the risk of dangerous drug interactions and side effects.

Poor communication among healthcare providers also contributes to dangerous drug interactions. The lack of coordination of medical care between a patient’s various doctors leads to one doctor prescribing medication without considering the other drugs that other medical professionals have already prescribed.

When medical professionals make a mistake when prescribing drugs and patients are injured or die, the victims or their family members can hold those parties liable.

What Are Some of the Most Dangerous Drugs Doctors Still Prescribe in Chicago?

Prescription drugs that are well known for their potential to harm users in Chicago and nationwide include the following:


Prescription opioids are usually used for moderate to severe pain. The chemicals they contain can relax the body and relieve pain. Doctors may prescribe them after you’ve suffered an injury or have had dental work or surgery. Sometimes, they’re used to treat coughing and diarrhea. Prescription opioids include:

  • Codeine
  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone
  • Morphine
  • Oxymorphone
  • Fentanyl

People who use opioids legitimately as directed by their doctor can still develop opioid use disorder, which is the addiction to opioids. Besides relieving pain, prescription opioids can bring about feelings of calmness and intense happiness (euphoria). As a result, they can be highly addictive. Studies have shown that factors like severe pain, poor health, being younger, a history of alcoholism or substance abuse, and being a former or current smoker can increase the risk of dependence on opioids.

Opioid use disorder increases the risk of overdose. Using opioids with other medications can increase the chances of accidental overdose and cause deadly side effects. Opioids are a common factor in many deaths involving controlled prescription drugs. Opioids are also prescribed for pregnant women. However, they can cause serious problems like premature birth and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) in babies.

In recent years, physicians and dentists have been heavily prescribing opioids even for relatively minor issues where safer analgesic medicines could work. This practice has exposed millions to the unnecessary risk of opioid use disorder, overdose, and death.


Benzodiazepines, commonly referred to as benzos, are one of the most over-prescribed and dangerous medications. They include medications like Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and Ativan. These prescription drugs are central nervous system depressants, allowing users to experience calming or sleep-like effects. As a result, they’re usually prescribed to counter anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. In recent times, they’re increasingly being prescribed for back and chronic pain.

Between 2003 and 2015, the benzodiazepine prescription rate doubled. During the coronavirus pandemic, prescriptions for these drugs had risen by 34% by March 15, 2020. Benzodiazepines are best used in the short term. However, long-term use of the drug has been rising. One study found the rate of continuing prescriptions to have increased by 50% from 2005 to 2015.

Benzodiazepines can cause patients to develop physical dependence on them within a few weeks. They can also cause respiratory depression, which could be fatal. Long-term use can lead to addiction, overdose, and death. Overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines in 2021 show an elevenfold rise compared to 1999. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, the rate of drug overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines among women aged 30 to 64 years rose by 830% between 1999 and 2017.

The risk of addiction, overdose, and death increases when benzodiazepines are used together with opioids. A study found the rate of prescribing benzodiazepines and opioids together to have quadrupled since 2003. In 2016, the FDA warned doctors about the potentially life-threatening dangers of co-prescribing opioids with benzodiazepines.


Prescription stimulants are used to manage ADHD and narcolepsy. They increase attention, alertness, and energy. Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine are common examples of prescription stimulants.

These drugs can cause euphoria, increased respiration, increased blood sugar, high blood pressure, and increased heart rate in the short term. If high doses are taken, they can cause fever, arrhythmia, seizures, and heart failure. Repeated misuse can cause severe agitation and restlessness, psychosis, paranoia, and manic episodes.


Antidepressant drugs are commonly used to treat depression. They can also be used to treat mood and anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Common antidepressants include Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Luvox, and Lexapro.

The long-term side effects of antidepressant use include:

  • Weight gain
  • Insomnia
  • Low libido
  • Blood clots
  • Increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior
  • Increased risk of internal bleeding

The FDA has also issued warnings of antidepressants causing a serious and potentially life-threatening condition known as serotonin syndrome when used in combination with opioids. Studies have linked antidepressant use during pregnancy to an increased risk of the baby getting persistent pulmonary hypertension.

If you’ve suffered an injury that you believe was caused by a drug prescribed by a medical professional in Chicago, you may ask yourself, “how do I know I have a case?” A medical malpractice lawyer can help determine whether you’re entitled to financial compensation. The lawyer will carefully review the details of your case to determine if your physician or another healthcare professional was at fault for your dangerous drug injury. Your lawyer will then help you explore legal options and pursue compensation for the harm suffered.