opioid overdose

Gavel and a stethoscope
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A federal appeals court has rejected arguments by a former Vero Beach orthopedic surgeon who was sentenced to life in prison in the death of a Palm Beach County woman who overdosed on counterfeit oxycodone pills.

There's a reckoning underway in the courts about the damage wrought by the opioid crisis and who should pay for it.

There's no doubt that opioids have been massively overprescribed in U.S. In the haste to address the epidemic, there's been pressure on doctors to reduce prescriptions of these drugs — and in fact prescriptions are declining. But along the way, some chronic pain patients have been forced to rapidly taper or discontinue the drugs altogether.

Now, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a new message for doctors: Abrupt changes to a patient's opioid prescription could harm them.

Palm Beach County has been the epicenter of the opioid crisis in Florida. But data from the county’s state attorney office shows opioid deaths decreased 41 percent from 2017 to 2018.

As the opioid epidemic has escalated around the nation, colleges and universities have been spared the brunt of it. Opioid addiction and overdoses are more rare on campuses than among young adults in the general population. But schools are not immune to the problem, and they're growing increasingly concerned about how to keep students safe.

For the first time in Hillsborough County, a drug dealer will face murder charges after deputies said a man overdosed on an opioid that was sold to him.

Courtroom bench
Wikimedia Commons

Pointing to a “Good Samaritan” law passed in 2012, a state appeals court Friday said a man should have been immune from prosecution on drug charges because he called 911 to seek help when a friend overdosed on heroin.

Julio Ochoa / WUSF Public Media

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced Tuesday that the state has filed a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors, blaming the companies for creating the crisis which kills about 15 Floridians a day.

In a refrigerator in the coroner's office in Marion County, Ind., rows of vials await testing. They contain blood, urine and vitreous, the fluid collected from inside a human eye.

In overdose cases, the fluids may contain clues for investigators.

"We send that off to a toxicology lab to be tested for what we call drugs of abuse," said Alfie Ballew, deputy coroner. The results often include drugs such as cocaine, heroin, fentanyl or prescription pharmaceuticals.

Congress Tackles The Opioid Epidemic. But How Much Will It Help?

Mar 20, 2018

The nation’s opioid epidemic has been called today’s version of the 1980s AIDS crisis.

How Many Opioid Overdoses Are Suicides?

Mar 15, 2018

Mady Ohlman was 22 on the evening some years ago when she stood in a friend's bathroom looking down at the sink.

"I had set up a bunch of needles filled with heroin because I wanted to just do them back-to-back-to-back," Ohlman recalls. She doesn't remember how many she injected before collapsing, or how long she lay drugged-out on the floor.

"But I remember being pissed because I could still get up, you know?"

She wanted to be dead, she says, glancing down. A wisp of straight brown hair slips from behind an ear across her thin face.

Peter Haden/WLRN

Two people overdosed on opioids while in shelters in Palm Beach County during Hurricane Irma, officials said.

For the third year in a row, the proposed Jacksonville city budget contains no money for updating or expanding the medical examiner’s office —that’s despite an increased workload and overcrowding from drug-overdose deaths.