Georgia has an excellent university system, which Georgians are rightly proud of. But there has been a medical issue in recent years that is worrying, especially to parents of college age (or soon to be college age) children. Our Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers have seen recent stories in the news about the problems with abuse of ADHD medicine on campuses.
The root of the problem is that students today are abusing ADHD medicine, such as Adderall, because the stimulant increases focus and concentration for getting school-work done. In a competitive environment, the drug is seen as a way to have an edge over other students and a recent study showed that as many as one third of US college students are abusing medicines like Adderall. Of course, abusing drugs meant to treat conditions a person does not have always has a dark side. In this case, abusing these stimulant medications has been linked to anxiety, depression, and even suicide.
Mixed with students' desire for these drugs are overburdened campus health care centers. In our own state, Georgia Tech said their student health center was so overwhelmed by requests of students for ADHD medications that they can no longer handle the requests.
These problems lead to an ongoing case involving a Harvard student. Johnny Edwards received an ADHD diagnosis at Harvard's Health Services in June 2007, just after his freshman year. He was examined only once by a nurse specialist. Marianne Cannon, the nurse, said Johnny complained that he could not concentrate on schoolwork as much as his friends and that he thought his father "may have hadADHD. She also said he mentioned two traffic violations and that he drank Red Bull to help him concentrate.
Cannon diagnosed Johnny based on these facts at the one medical visit, and she wrote him a prescription for Adderall, which this type of nurse is allowed to do in Massachusetts. In the months that followed, Johnny became depressed and was prescribed anti-depressants by the same Health Services. Six months after the June diagnosis, Johnny committed suicide. Johnny's father, John Edwards, blames Harvard Health Services for his son's death and filed a lawsuit against the university. Mr. Edwards claims Johnny never had ADHD and that his diagnosis and prescription for Adderall did not meet medical standards. The case will go to trial in February next year.
With this problem rampant on college campuses, and Georgia Tech specifically telling news sources their health services are overwhelmed by requests for ADHD diagnoses and medications, it cannot be long before more cases like Johnny's are litigated. It will be interesting to see how the courts deal with the issue, and how campuses continue to struggle with this serious problem.
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