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Sister claims brother's death caused by doctor's prescription

Virtually no family in New Jersey wants to think that a loved one may have died at the hands of a healthcare provider, but that's exactly what one out-of-state family is grappling with. The family sister believes that the man's death was caused by medication that his physician prescribed him. This medical malpractice case recently went to trial.

The victim was twice prescribed Bactim -- an antibiotic medication specifically indicated for bacterial infections -- for rashes, once in April 2009 and once more in Jan. 2011. While on his second prescription, the man developed Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a rare and serious disorder of the skin and a known risk of Bactim use. The skin condition can cause exceptionally painful symptoms, including lesions on the skin. He ultimately died from sepsis, which he allegedly developed because of the skin condition.

His sister argues that his physician was negligent in prescribing her brother the medication, although the doctor countered that he did so appropriately. It was noted that both prescriptions he wrote were only for 10 days, although it is unclear what length of time Bactim must be used for before a patient is at risk for developing Stevens-Johnson syndrome. His doctor also claimed that since the victim suffered from other healthcare problems, his sepsis and subsequent death couldn't necessarily be pinpointed to the Bactim.

Furthermore, the physician reported that the times that he prescribed Bactim and the man's hospitalization did not line up, although he never bothered to correct the records from the hospital that indicated that those times were consistent with one another. Although many medical malpractice claims in New Jersey are settled before going to trial, in some instances it is necessary to pursue justice through litigation. In this case, the man's sister seeks $400 million on behalf of her brother's estate for his death. 

Source: wacotrib.com, "Waco doctor accused in medical malpractice trial", Tommy Witherspoon, Nov. 10, 2014

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Alan D. Bell
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