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Kentucky patients, beware of medication allergies

It all began with a toe infection. The family of a 33-year-old man who died after repeated trips to a healthcare facility for his rapidly worsening condition says that it ended with his death due to an antibiotic medication error. Recently, a federal court agreed and reached a settlement of $2.5 million with the man's family and fiancee. The settlement was awaiting approval from the U.S. Department of Justice because the lawsuit was filed in federal court due to federal funding of the healthcare facility involved.

A red and swollen lump between the toes of his left foot led the man to seek treatment at an area clinic. He was prescribed the antibiotic Bactrim, but he returned the next day with pain in his left hip and thigh, a severe headache and red eyes crusted with yellow. The emergency room there prescribed pain killers and told him to keep taking the Bactrim. The lawsuit said that he returned five more times to the clinic for eye pain, pounding headaches, leg pain, nausea and vomiting.

Finally, he returned to the ER, where it was discovered that he was suffering from liver failure and kidney failure, from proved fatal. The lawsuit claims that the multi-organ failure was due to an allergy to the antibiotic, which could have been detected with a proper blood work-up. It alleges that such a blood test was never done.

Covington-area patients have a right to file a lawsuit in Kentucky if they believe they have been the victims of a pharmacy error such as overmedication or undermedication. The families of individuals who died from an alleged overdose or fatal combinations of medications may also seek compensation for damages in a court of law.

Source: Insurance Journal, "$2.5M Settlement In Hawaii Malpractice Began With a Toe", November 15, 2013

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