Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is a severe life –threatening reaction of the skin and mucous membranes to drugs or infections. Patients who come down with this disorder often want to know if they could have avoided avoid the lifelong injuries that often accompany this condition – with better treatment or even prevention. A medical malpractice investigation/ lawsuit is sometimes warranted, especially when the drug that triggered the Stevens-Johnson should never have been prescribed.
Often, Stevens-Johnson syndrome begins with flu-like symptoms, followed by a painful red or purplish rash that spreads and blisters, eventually causing the top layer of the skin to die and shed.
Stevens-Johnson syndrome is an emergency medical condition that usually requires hospitalization. Treatment focuses on eliminating the underlying cause, controlling symptoms and minimizing complications. Recovery after Stevens-Johnson syndrome can take weeks to months, depending on the severity.
Medications are the most common cause of Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Drugs commonly associated with Stevens-Johnson syndrome include:
- Anti-gout medications, such as allopurinol
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Sulfonamides and penicillins, which are used to treat infections
- Anticonvulsants (such as Dilantin; generic: phenytoin), which are used to treat seizures
Allopurinol currently has warnings about the potential risk of severe skin side effects, and prescribing physicians should be on the lookout for the possible development of SJS. A multinational study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in January 2008 indicated that Allopurinol was the most common cause of SJS and TEN in Europe and Israel, constituting about 18% of all cases.
Infections that can cause Stevens-Johnson syndrome include:
- Herpes (herpes simplex or herpes zoster)
In some cases, Stevens-Johnson syndrome may be caused by physical stimuli, such as radiation therapy or ultraviolet light.
The Patrick Malone firm has had success with malpractice lawsuits for Stevens-Johnson syndrome where we could make the case that the drug that caused the reaction should not have been prescribed in the first place. Other lawyers also have had successful cases. In California, an 82-year-old woman won a lawsuit against her doctor, who had prescribed Allopurinol for gout, which it turned out she did not have. In New Hampshire, a 51-year-old woman won a lawsuit against the drug manufacturer for her severe skin reaction from a generic version of the anti-inflammatory drug Clinoril, which is marketed as Sulindac.
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