South Florida Hospital News
Thursday October 17, 2019
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October 2019 - Volume 16 - Issue 4

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Florida Hospitals File Lawsuit Against Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors On the front lines of the opioid crisis, hospitals experience significant financial and operational harm

September 18, 2019 – A group of 27 Florida hospitals have filed a civil lawsuit against the manufacturers, distributors and retailers of opioid-based drugs. Florida hospitals have experienced significant financial and operational harm as they’ve fought and treated the complications of addiction on the frontlines of the nation’s opioid epidemic. The Florida hospitals are among hundreds across the U.S. that have filed similar lawsuits.
 
The complaint, filed in Circuit Court of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit in and for Broward County, Florida, alleges negligence, fraud and civil conspiracy by the defendants, which include Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott Laboratories and almost 20 other companies and individuals involved in the manufacturing, distribution and sales of prescription opioids. 
 
The filing alleges the unlawful actions are part of a decades-long practice in which the defendants made false assurances about the addiction risks associated with opioid products and used other deceptive marketing tactics to persuade physicians and other health care providers to broaden their prescribing patterns. The result has been widespread addiction, suffering, and loss of life in communities across the country, with hospitals bearing the financial burden of care and treatment for the victims. 
 
In May 2017, Florida Governor Rick Scott declared the opioid crisis a state public health emergency. Months later, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determined a public health emergency exists nationwide. But the seeds of the epidemic were sown more than a decade earlier; data compiled by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency shows there were more than 5.5 billion prescription pain pills supplied to Florida from 2006 to 2012. In 2018, there were 5,922 drug-related deaths in Florida; of those, 2,733 were opioid-related. 
 
A recently release study from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that 13 percent of Floridians lacked health insurance in 2018, compared with a national average of 8.5 percent. Both the state and national figures were up from the prior year.
 
The filing claims many facilities have also been forced to make capital investments in their facilities to accommodate increased security measures and create new treatment areas for overdose patients and those experiencing acute and chronic diseases that result from opioid abuse.
 
“No party is better positioned, given the appropriate financial resources, to lead us out of this public health crisis than our hospitals,” said William R. Scherer, founder and managing partner of Conrad & Scherer, L.L.P., representing the Florida hospitals. “They have measurable damages and must be active participants in any opioid settlement discussions.” 
 
Last month the American Hospital Association urged a judge hearing one of the opioid cases “to ensure that needed funds are directed to the hospitals and health systems that are on the forefront of caring for the victims of this epidemic. 
 
With additional resources, hospitals can broaden access to post-overdose treatment in emergency departments, increase training of physicians to treat substance use disorders, cover the costs of lengthy stays and follow-up care for infants with neonatal abstinence disorder, and invest in electronic health information systems to improve coordinated care and prevent overprescribing.”
 
The case is number #95754861 in Circuit Court of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit in and for Broward County.
Hospital List
Coral Gables Hospital
Hialeah Hospital
Larkin Community Hospital 
North Shore Medical Center
Palmetto General Hospital
Delray Medical Center
Good Samaritan Medical Center
Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center
St. Mary's Medical Center
Bayfront Health
Tampa General Hospital
Venice Regional Bayfront Health
Shands Lake Shore Regional Medical Center
Shands Live Oak Regional Medical Center
Shands Starke Regional Medical Center
North Okaloosa Medical Center
Santa Rosa Medical Center
Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center
Lake Wales Medical Center
Central Florida Health
Lower Keys Medical Center
Seven Rivers Regional Medical Center
Broward Health
Physicians Regional Medical Center
Flagler Hospital
Halifax Hospital Medical Center
 
 
ABOUT CONRAD & SCHERER
Conrad & Scherer, LL
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