In the 1940’s, the widespread use of Penicillin to treat bacterial infections began. This launched a revolution in medicine, as previously deadly infections were now curable. However, approximately 10% of the population is allergic to Penicillin and its variants. As a result, drug manufacturers raced to find alternatives to Penicillin, including new generations of antibiotics focused on treating specific strains of bacteria.
However, studies have concluded that antibiotics are responsible for up to 40.9% of adverse drug reactions. These can range from simple allergic skin reactions to organ failure and death. As a result, medical practitioners must prescribe antibiotics carefully to avoid the potential for allergic reactions and other side effects.
Many antibiotics, especially those prescribed for long-term use, require special monitoring. For example, long-term Vancomycin use can result in renal toxicity/kidney failure. Another example is the antibiotic Augmentin (a form of Amoxicillin), which can cause liver disease with prolonged use. Medical practitioners must use caution when prescribing these antibiotics to patients with preexisting kidney and liver problems. In addition, when prescribing these antibiotics on a long-term basis, special blood tests may be required to monitor the patient’s kidney and liver function.
Another antibiotic that requires special monitoring is Gentamicin, a broad spectrum antibiotic that is administered intravenously to treat complex bacterial infections. Studies show that approximately 10% of Gentamicin patients suffer some level of kidney damage, and 11% suffer vestibular damage to their inner ear (resulting in severe and often permanent hearing and balance disorders). These injuries are “dose dependent,” meaning the higher the dose given, the greater the chance that the patient will be harmed. Initial doses are precisely calculated based upon the patient’s weight, and special monitoring protocols have been developed to avoid the harmful effects of Gentamicin toxicity. This monitoring includes frequent “peak & trough” tests to assess the serum levels of Gentamicin in the blood, ensuring they do not reach toxic levels. When performed properly, these tests greatly reduce the risk of Gentamicin toxicity. However, if these protocols are not properly followed, severe and permanent injuries, and even death, can result.
Our attorneys have decades of experience in analyzing cases of medication injuries caused by antibiotics. Call us if you believe that you or a loved one was injured due to an adverse drug reaction caused by antibiotics.