Opioid Abuse Malpractice Claims: What Attorneys Need to Know


CLE credits earned: 2 GENERAL (or 2 LAW & LEGAL for WA state)

Attorneys involved in cases related to drugs will encounter autopsy reports and other postmortem findings that are trying to tell the story of what happened to a person prior to death. Was there a drug overdose? Was a prescription medication responsible for the fatality? Was the person impaired prior to a fatal accident? Did use of a street drug contribute to the death? Part one of this two-hour activity will go over the basics of what attorneys need to know: what happens in the body after death? How do postmortem changes affect drug levels? What are the different sources of drug levels in dead people (and why are we testing eyeball fluid anyway)? How drug levels can, and cannot be, tied to cause of death. And, what other information does a toxicologist need to help you answer your questions about a postmortem case?

Part two of this program will take the knowledge attorneys have gained in the area of postmortem toxicology and apply it to a class of drugs too often associated with death: opioids. Attorneys not only encounter opioids in every day news. Criminal attorneys hear of these drugs on a much-too-regular basis when it comes to impairment, fatalities, and street drug dealings. Medical malpractice attorneys encounter cases where an opioid may or may not have resulted in harm to a patient. Employment attorneys and family law attorneys have drug screen results cross their desks revealing what appears to be use of opioids. What pearls of science do attorneys need to know about these drugs? How do they work? How do they poison and take the lives of so many? Where do they fit into postmortem cases? Where is fentanyl found? How does naloxone work, and when does it work and when does it not? These questions and more will be answered during this one-hour portion of the program.

This course is co-sponsored with myLawCLE.

Key topics to be discussed:

•   How postmortem changes affect drug levels
•   How a drug level can/cannot be tied to a cause of death
•   Drugs that can intensify opioid toxicity
•   Pitfalls in interpreting drug screen results as they relate to opioids
•   Reasons for the presence of morphine in the blood

Date / Time: January 17, 2020

•   2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Eastern
•   1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Central
•   12:00 pm – 2:00 pm Mountain
•   11:00 am – 1:00 pm Pacific

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•   Live Video Broadcast/Re-Broadcast: Watch Program “live” in real-time, must sign-in and watch program on date and time set above. May ask questions during presentation via chat box. Qualifies for “live” CLE credit.
•   On-Demand Video: Access CLE 24/7 via on-demand library and watch program anytime. Qualifies for self-study CLE credit. On-demand versions are made available 7 business days after the original recording date and are view-able for up to one year.

Select your state to see if this class is approved for CLE credit.

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Original Broadcast Date: June 19, 2019

Dr. Allison Muller is a board-certified toxicologist and registered pharmacist with over 20 years’ experience in the field of clinical toxicology. After a nearly 20-year career leading the Poison Control Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which included consulting on toxicology cases from 21 counties in Pennsylvania and Delaware, Dr. Muller is presently an independent consultant specializing in medical communications and providing expert witness testimony on cases involving medications, alcohol, chemicals, and environmental toxins. She is also adjunct faculty at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and a founding Section Editor for the Journal of Emergency Nursing.

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Part 1. Postmortem toxicology, changes in the body after death, postmortem drug level interpretation

Part 2. How opioids work in the body, how they result in harm, sources of opioids, opioids mixed with other drugs, interpretation of drug screens related to opioids