Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) April 28, 2014 - The effects of Florida’s pill mills on adults are widely understood, but their effects on children are only recently becoming more clear.
A major investigation by the Miami Herald, titled “Innocents Lost,” has uncovered serious shortcomings in the way the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) protects children vulnerable to abuse and neglect, as well as how it tabulates and reports data on deaths of those children. One report from the investigation exposes the deaths of many children of drug-addicted parents – whether due to abuse, neglect or the prescription drugs themselves.
Tampa pill mill attorney Robert Joyce says the story serves as an important and sobering reminder of the dangers of drugs and pill mills.
“The evidence shows dozens of child deaths could have been prevented if greater weight had been placed on the dangers of prescription drug abuse,” Mr. Joyce says. “Narcotic painkillers such as oxycodone are very powerful drugs, and someone addicted to them is not going to be able to properly care for children and keep them safe. From this report, it’s painfully clear that many children’s deaths can be attributed to neglect and, tragically, to abuse of the drugs by the children. What makes it worse is that our government failed not only to regulate pill mills in a timely manner, but also to appropriately protect children.”
According to the Miami Herald, 123 children have died since 2008 after DCF had knowledge that one or both parents were abusing prescription medications. More than 85 percent of them were under age 3.
Jaiden Washpun's mother was arrested for doctor-shopping the day before he was born. He left the womb weighing 2 pounds, 4 ounces, and carrying opiates, benzodiazepines and marijuana in his blood. Less than four months later, authorities found him unresponsive on a motel room bed where, police say, Washpun’s mother and her boyfriend had set up shop as drug dealers.
Seth Mixon, a Hillsborough County boy, lived long enough to become a user of his mother's prescription Xanax, according to the DCF. The department received a total of 16 calls about Seth to its hotline, complaining about his mother's drug abuse and neglect of the boy. On February 12, 2010, at age 13, he was found dead in his bed of a drug overdose.
"FLorida has made a lot of progress in this area. I hope this report leads to meaningful reforms at DCF as well,” Mr. Joyce adds.
Joyce and Reyes Law Firm, P.A.
307 S Hyde Park Ave
Tampa, FL 33606
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