Medical Negligence and Antibiotics

As a medical malpractice lawyer, like from Mishkind Kulwicki Law, CO., L.P.A., the most heart-wrenching cases involve injuries to children or the wrongful death of a child. We have handled many cases involving death or injury to a newborn arising out of obstetrical malpractice or improper management of labor and delivery, misdiagnosis of pediatric cancer, delayed diagnosis of meningitis, birth injury, anesthesia malpractice, mis-filled prescription, overdose of medication and misdiagnosis of genetic syndromes.  Another scenario involves the catastrophic effects of an unnecessary prescription for antibiotics.

The over-prescription and overuse of antibiotics has plagued American medicine for many years. Pediatricians know that antibiotics do not work against common viruses. However, eager yet uninformed parents want a magic pill to fix their child’s earache or sore throat or cough. So, when their pediatrician turns down their request for an antibiotic, they simply reschedule the visit with the pediatrician down the street. Pediatricians know this, so they feel pressure to fill prescriptions for antibiotics even though they know that they have no effect on any viral illness. Antibiotics only work with bacterial illnesses.

As a result of the persistent overuse of antibiotics, a number of virulent super bugs have  developed that are resistant to antibiotics. American food production has contributed to this by using antibiotics for purposes of growing larger livestock. This overuse of antibiotics has led to the development of superbugs, like MRSA, that do not respond to traditional antibiotic therapy. 

In addition to creating superbugs, antibiotics carry other unwanted side effects.  The Washington Post recently published a story about a toddler who nearly died due to a C. Diff infection after receiving unnecessary antibiotics. She became so dehydrated from diarrhea that she needed to be put into a critical care unit and hydrated with intravenous fluids.

Another dangerous scenario involves an allergic reaction to certain antibiotics called Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS). This condition occurs in a certain subset of patients who have an adverse reaction to certain classes of antibiotics. In those cases, the child’s skin seemingly burns off, resulting in severe scarring and, in some cases, death.

According to the Washington Post article, “a study published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases in January found that one in 4 children given antibiotics in U.S. children’s hospitals are prescribed the drugs inappropriately – – the wrong types, or for too long, or when they are not necessary.”

Uneducated and irresponsible parents are part of the problem, but doctors who should know better are the real problem. They should put their foot down and refuse to prescribe antibiotics when they are not warranted in the case of a viral illness. When a doctor prescribes antibiotics that are not necessary or contraindicated and the child suffers a severe reaction like Stevens Johnson Syndrome, a claim for medical malpractice can be brought against that physician to recover compensation for injuries caused by the negligent prescription. If this has happened to you or a loved one, you should contact a medical malpractice lawyer today in order to learn about your rights of recovery and the applicable time limits.