Benzodiazepine addiction is now a well-established clinical concept. Benzodiazepine withdrawal is both unpleasant and potentially protracted, lasting for many months and possibly years. As such, withdrawal needs to be carefully managed – taking someone off their prescription abruptly can be dangerous and even potentially life-threatening.
When might I have a claim?
Benzodiazepines are highly effective anxiolytics and are still prescribed by GPs and psychiatrists, mainly for the short term (i.e., for less than 3 – 4 weeks) relief of anxiety and stress. However, due to an increasing understanding of their addictive nature, they should be prescribed with care and monitored. In fact, The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) published guidelines in 2004 stipulating that benzodiazepines in the treatment of anxiety should not normally be used beyond two to four weeks.
Often benzodiazepines are prescribed following a life crisis in a patient who has until this point been a high achiever. In almost all of these cases, benzodiazepines were not withdrawn sufficiently rapidly, and an addiction developed. Suicide is a surprisingly common feature.
Therefore, in relation to benzodiazepines, you might have a claim if:
- you, or someone close to you, have experienced addiction and harm (or death) as a result of withdrawal, when your clinician prescribed prolonged usage of the drug without good reason to do so, and/or without warning you of the negative effects properly (not having given informed consent).
- you, or someone close to you, have experienced withdrawal symptoms and not been admitted to hospital for treatment in a timely manner, or had your withdrawal from the drug properly managed, resulting in harm or death.
Can I bring a claim for someone who has died as a result of benzodiazepines?
Yes, and we have a great deal of experience bringing claims for families who have lost someone as a result of medical negligence.
How long do I have to make a claim?
You usually have three years from the date of knowledge of injury to bring a medical negligence claim.
How much compensation might I receive?
The level of compensation you receive depends entirely on the nature of your case and the harm and financial losses you have experienced.
Wave experience in bringing claims for the very highest levels of compensation. In one case we brought, we settled a claim for death as a result of mis-prescription of benzodiazepine at £625,000; one of the largest settlements for a case of this nature in England & Wales at the time.