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The Frustration of SJS Syndrome

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Judith Spicer of Jacksonville, North Carolina has been a registered nurse for 30 years and knows a lot about the medical profession - enough to know that she shouldn't have to pay the specialist responsible for her contracting SJS syndrome.

Last year Spicer was diagnosed with Osteo Myalitis, an infection of the bone, and was referred to an infectious disease doctor. He decided to place a pic line in her arm so she could receive IV antibiotics. But she immediately had a reaction to the drugs.

"The nurse practitioner said that I would be OK and they would just pre-treat me with Benedryl, an antihistamine blocker. I am capable of doing my own nursing care so they just set me up with a health care agency. So I pre-treated myself with benedryl, then I administered Vancomyasin as I also have a kidney disease.

I went to work and noticed a massive rash on my arm and I also had some sores in my mouth. A few doctors I work with said that I was having a reaction to the antibiotics, so I called the specialist and drove one hour to the hospital in Wilmington to see him. He didn't show up until midnight and all they did was pull my pic line; they didn't give me anything for my rash or mouth.

The next day my throat and lips were swollen. I called my girlfriend (I'm single and live alone) and she drove me to the hospital. They gave me a high dose of prednisone and epinephrine and sent me home. The infectious disease doctor would not come down to the hospital to see me.

When I woke up the next morning I could barely breathe and couldn't see very well - my eyes were swollen and it looked like I had a severe sunburn all over my body. Back to the hospital again and this time I was diagnosed with SJS syndrome. I was kept in there for three days and discharged with a prescription for prednisone. The scary thing is that I was only treated for two weeks for Osteo Myalitis and it should have been longer. It is in my foot and I have to stand on my feet at work. It is really unfortunate for me; if this physician recognized my reaction right away, he could have stopped it from being full-blown SJS. And I later found out from my pharmacist that my prescription was far too strong.

I was never sick before this. They don't know what they will treat me with if Osteo Myalitis will flare up again. This infectious disease guy sent me a bill for $600. I refuse to pay that - it's the principal. I talked to some physicians I work with and he didn't do his job. He should have looked at my medical history and he should never have prescribed those medications. I am sure he caused the SJS syndrome.

Now if I am sick, I have to use my vacation time. I am so angry with him. Not only did he fail to diagnose me, he abandoned my care. On the release form they sent me home with, it says 'rash', so they are liable. I wonder who else they have done that to. I was so sick I could have died. If I didn't know how to take care of myself it could have been really bad.

Apparently I wasn't ill enough to get a malpractice suit. What does it take - do I have to be on the brink of death to get compensation? If it flares up again I don't know what will happen. The worst thing is my fatigue and my immune system is compromised. I just want these people to be accountable for the services they provide."

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