Unrecorded Drug Allergy.
Lewis & Roberts represented the family of a 77 year old twice widowed mother of four who died shortly after being given a dose of Bactrim (a sulfa medication). Our client was given the medication after she had told five different doctors, nurses and EMTs that she was allergic to Sulfa medications. Our deceased client’s medical records contained numerous listings of the Sulfa drug allergy, but the allergy was not recorded in her hospital electronic medical records. The defendant doctors and nurses admitted that they never asked our client if she had any drug allergies because they “trusted” the electronic medical records to be accurate and correct. After being given the Bactrim, our deceased client began to break out in a painful rash and hives that covered 50% of her body. The defendants diagnosed our deceased client as having Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. Sulfa allergy is a leading cause of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome – a horrible and painful disease caused by allergic drug reactions. The body becomes covered with large blisters that cause tremendous loss of skin and infection. Stevens-Johnson patients are treated like burn victim because of the type of the damage to the patient’s skin. The day after receiving the Bactrim our deceased client was airlifted to another hospital for critical care burn treatment. Due to her complications, she died the next day. Even though the death certificate found the cause of death to be Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, the defendants denied that she had any reaction to the Bactrim or that the Bactrim was related to her death. The case involved over 40 depositions and expert witnesses throughout the country.
Court Sanctions Ordered Against The Hospital
The case was destined for trial until Lewis & Roberts discovered that the hospital defendants had improperly hidden medical records that showed how the hospital’s admitting nurse did not record the sulfa allergy. After a court hearing on the hidden documents, the Court sanctioned the hospital defendants. The hospital defendants were then ordered to pay for additional depositions to be taken so that we could investigate the hidden documents. Moreover, the court entered an Order that the hospital defendants "knowingly and intentionally withheld" documents over 2 1/2 years into the lawsuit. The case then quickly settled when the hospital's insurance company agreed to pay a confidential amount. Mr. Dickinson had previously obtained Court sanctions against the hospital for over $25,000 based on similar tactics of not disclosing information to which we were entitled.
The case is a testament to our firm’s tenacity and dedication to obtain all of the information to which the rules allow – and how courts will not tolerate defendants’ intentional misdeeds.