Skip to main content

Can a doctor label you as being opiate dependent on your medical records just because u r prescribed them by a diff doc?

Belle Vernon, PA |

I was admitted into the hospital because of severe abdominal pain and flu-like symptoms. It was determined that I have gallstones and am in an acute hep c infection. I was there for 7 days and during that time they called my PCP to confirm the medications I was taking. I am on narcotic pain meds for chronic pain and have been for years without ever having any problems. My trip to the hospital had nothing to do with me wanting or needing pain medication. Infact, I told them I had my own medication at home and was just there to find out what was wrong with my stomach. I went to pick up my records from the stay and was shocked to see that the doctors at the hospital had made comments on them such as "opiate dependent", "narcotic user", and "previous pain med seeking behavior". Is this legal?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 4

Best Answer

Generally speaking, yes, it is legal. You have a right to obtain your medical records, and you have the right to have errors corrected. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to categorize the information you've quoted above as errors. Also, please keep in mind that the notations you find offensive may sound unflattering but they may be true statements made without derogatory intent. In other words, based upon your own statements above, you are dependent upon narcotic pain medication for relief of chronic pain--that's not a character flaw, it's a medical condition. As such, appropriate notations in your chart are expected. Discuss this with your regular doctor for further insight. Good luck!

Ms. Brown may be reached at 718-878-6886 during regular business hours, or anytime by email at: All of Ms. Brown’s responses to questions posted on AVVO are intended as general information based upon the facts stated in the question, and are provided for educational purposes of the public, not any specific individual, and her response to the question above is not legal advice and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. Ms. Brown is licensed to practice law in New York. If you would like to obtain specific legal advice about this issue, you must contact an attorney who is licensed to practice law in your state.


Physicians are required to write down their medical opinions, thus, despite this upsetting you, it likely caused you no harm.

Licensed in Pennsylvania & New Jersey & Serving the Nation. Only 29% Fee Deducted. 1-877-258-3083.



I am currently waiting on a date for my disability hearing. I thought his comments might be damaging to that


Yes - it is legal for doctors to write their medical opinions - which may include opinions about your past use of prescription medications. I understand you do not like their terms - but those are the medical terms for consistent habitual use.

Unless, you can show that the records are false and that the doctors intentionally made false written remarks in an effort to harm your reputation, I would not waste any time worrying about it. Indeed, your records should be confidential and protected.

Hope this helps.


Those are expressions of medical opinion about your medical condition(s), drug usage history and/or patterns, and as such are not any form of slander or libel, if that is part of what you were asking. Having defended doctors for a number of years, as a medical malpractice attorney, providing legal services in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, it is all too often that Physicians can get sued if they do not document such suspicions/opinions. or they can be called to task by the FDA, State Boards or in civil liability, if they fail to observe, document and correct their own prescribing and treatment recommendations. Those notations are legit and for medical treatment purposes, so that they do not cause someone who is already on opiates to OD by giving additional prescriptions, samples, etc.

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer