betasteve wrote:kaiser wrote:To figure out if the doctor is the but-for cause, you need to know more about the pill. Would just one pill be fatal (you said that these are pills that the patient "should not have")? If one pill would be fatal, then it won't matter that the patient downed 20 at once, since the first one alone would have killed him anyway.
And in terms of proximate cause, it would be in no way reasonably foreseeable that the patient would take a handful of pills if the doctor specifically told him to just take 1, and the literature that accompanies the prescription verifies the doctor's orders to only take 1.
You've got this backwards, and wrong.
But-for - yes... But for the Dr. prescribing the pills, the patient wouldn't have taken them.
Proximate - depends on the pill. If it was oxycotin or something that has a history of being abused or used for suicide, then I think it may be in the realm of foreseeability... if the guy overdosed on Rx-strength aleve, that seems less likely to be foreseeable.
We still don't know if its but-for cause. The patient may have had a stash of dangerous pills waiting in his medicine cabinet that he would have taken instead had the doctor refused to give him any meds. And if the guy was truly suicidal, then nothing is really a but-for cause, since no matter what, he would have gone and killed himself anyway, but just done it in another fashion. Of course but for the doctor prescribing those particular pills, the patient wouldn't have OD'ed on those particular pills. But I'm looking at his death a little more broadly. The question isn't "But for the doctor's actions, would he have still OD'ed on those pills?". The question is "But for the doctor's actions, would the patient be alive right now?". And the answer to that has to be "we don't know".
And the only way it is reasonably foreseeable that he would OD is if the doctor had some hint or shred of evidence that would tip him off about the patient. But doctors prescribe heavy pain medications all the time. Hell, my dad just had shoulder surgery and got Oxy from the doc. Perhaps doctors do some prescreening of patient history, including mental health, to determine if distribution of such a drug is proper (and failure to do such screening may in itself be negligence). But aside from such a glitch in patient history, I still don't think its reasonably foreseeable.