Hospital to Appeal Award of Compensation for an Adverse Reaction to Anti-Coagulant Medication

A $44 million award of compensation for an adverse reaction to anti-coagulant medication will be appealed by the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

In September 2011, fifty-seven year old Andrea Tate was admitted to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to have a meningioma removed from inside her head. Despite this being considered a routine procedure, Andrea underwent a craniotomy and a resection due to the size and location of the mass.

Following her operation, Andrea was kept in the neurological intensive care unit, where she was administered heparin – an anti-coagulant – to prevent post-surgical swelling around her brain. APPT tests were conducted to measure the rate at which Andrea´s blood clotted and, once the rate had risen from 19 seconds to 32 seconds, the tests were stopped.

However, Andrea suffered an adverse reaction to the heparin and suffered a brain hemorrhage three days later. When the APPT test was conducted again, the rate at which Andreas blood was clotting had risen to 61 seconds – a rate considered significantly higher than the typical reference range and likely to cause excessive bleeding of the brain.

As a result of the hemorrhage, Andrea is now severely brain damaged and essentially bedridden. She is unable to walk, feed herself or use the toilet without assistance, and is cared for full-time by her husband, Dwight.

On his wife´s behalf, Dwight claimed compensation for an adverse reaction to anti-coagulant medication, alleging that – had the APPT tests been continued – doctors at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania would have realized that Andrea was not responding as she should have been to the heparin.

The hospital denied the allegations and argued that the brain hemorrhage was a complication of the meningioma procedure. However, at the Court of Common Pleas, the jury found in Andrea´s favor and awarded her $44 million compensation for an adverse reaction to anti-coagulant medication – an award that the hospital has said it will appeal after having offered $15 million in pre-trial negotiations.


Compensation Claims for Negligent Burns Treatment Resolved in Court

Two compensation claims for negligent burns treatment at a Philadelphia hospital have been resolved after a hearing at the Court of Common Pleas.

Antonio Crespo and Edward Torralvo were working at one of the latter´s rental projects in June 2011, when both men suffered burns to their fingers from handling hydrofluoric acid while cleaning bricks. Antonio and Edward waited until the following day before attending the emergency room at the Temple University Hospital, where they were treated by the hospital´s burns specialist Dr. William Hughes and resident consultant Theresa Pagana.

The two men had injections of lidocaine and calcium gluconate directly into their fingers and were given nerve blocks. However, the treatment failed to work and resulted in both men experiencing more pain in the fingers. When Antonio returned to the hospital two days later with swollen and discolored fingers, one doctor likened his condition to frostbite and, in July, he was treated for gangrene and had the tips of his left index and middle finger amputated.

Edward also had to undergo drastic treatment to resolve the pain in his fingers and still suffers from tingling and numbness. Antonio still has extreme sensitivity on the top of his amputated middle finger and may have to undergo further surgery.

After seeking legal advice, both men made compensation claims for negligent burns treatment against the Temple University Hospital, Dr. Hughes, and Theresa Pagana, alleging that the treatment they received should never have been administered by injection. They supported their claims with expert evidence that the injections could have prevented the blood flow in their fingers and hindered the drugs´ effectiveness.

Liability in the compensation claims for negligent burns treatment was denied by the defendants. Their defense was that the injections were necessary because the two men had waited too long before seeking medical treatment and the recommended course of action – the administration of calcium gluconate in the form of a gel massaged into the fingers – would not have worked so long after exposure to the acid.

The compensation claims for negligent burns treatment went to the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia. It was heard by a jury before Judge Karen Shreeves-John, who – at the end of an eight-day hearing – found in Antonio´s and Edward´s favor. The jury awarded Antonio – who was an aspiring musician – more than $4.5 million compensation for the avoidable amputation of his fingertips, and Edward $500,000 for the nerve damage he had sustained due to medical negligence.


Risperdal Side Effect Compensation Claim Resolved in Philadelphia Court

A Risperdal side effect compensation claim has been resolved in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia in favor of the twenty-one year old plaintiff.

Wisconsin-born Timothy Strange was first prescribed the antipsychotic drug Risperdal to help control his symptoms of Tourette´s syndrome when he was eleven years of age in 2005. Over the next few years, Timothy gained 60 pounds in weight, which masked the fact that he had developed gynecomastia – a side effect of the drug that manifested as enlarged breasts.

As he grew older and began to lose the weight, the side effect of Risperdal became more apparent. Teased and tormented by his peers, Timothy underwent a double mastectomy when he was eighteen to remove the excess tissue. Timothy´s mother also sought legal advice and made a Risperdal side effect compensation claim on behalf of her son.

The Risperdal side effect compensation claim alleged that the manufacturers of the drug – Janssen Pharmaceuticals – were aware of the possibility of gynecomastia, but had failed to warn Timothy´s doctor of the risks. Janssen Pharmaceuticals denied liability, and a hearing commenced in October at the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia.

Four weeks into the hearing, it became apparent that the defense was using an out-of-date analysis of Risperdal to support its arguments. The case was adjourned so that a 2012 reanalysis of the drug could be presented to the court and the hearing resumed on December 8.

The new evidence revealed that Janssen Pharmaceuticals was aware of the potential for gynecomastia in 2002 – three years before Timothy was prescribed the drug. The jury took just three hours to find in his favor, and awarded him $500,000 in settlement of the Risperdal side effect compensation claim.

Timothy´s Risperdal side effect compensation claim was the fourth case against Janssen Pharmaceuticals to be heard in Philadelphia. Three have now been settled in favor of the plaintiffs, while no causation could be found in the fourth.

Commenting on why Timothy´s Risperdal side effect compensation claim was settled for considerably less than the two previously successful claims, Timothy´s solicitor said that his client´s injury had been lessened by the double mastectomy he underwent in 2012. Furthermore there was no forecast loss of life expectancy as had featured in the previous claims.


Claim for an Injury due to a Negligent Hair Removal Treatment Resolved in Court

A claim for an injury due to a negligent hair removal treatment has been resolved in court with the plaintiff being awarded $1.5 million.

Paige Peterson (22), a student from Hunterdon County in New Jersey, made her claim for an injury due to a negligent hair removal treatment after visiting the Hunterdon Family Practice and Obstetrics Clinic in Flemington in July 2010, and undergoing hair removal treatment on her arms.

The physician who attended Paige – Dr. Lisa Plunkett – had performed the treatment on Paige several times before but, soon after this appointment, Paige developed rectangular-shaped second-degree burns from her wrists up to the middle of her forearms.

It took a year for the 1.5 x 0.5 inch stripes along Paige´s arms to diminish – during which time she had to wear sunscreen lotion under long-sleeved clothing. When she was allowed to dispense with the precautions against further damaging her skin, Paige found that when her arms tanned, the burned portions of her arms remained pale.

Page subsequently made a claim for an injury due to a negligent hair removal treatment against Dr. Plunkett – alleging that the physician had deviated from the standard of care for laser hair removal treatment by performing the procedure while Paige had significantly sun tanned arms.

In her legal action, Paige claimed that the laser device used in the hair removal treatment cannot differentiate between dark hair and dark skin pigmentation, and this resulted in the laser burning her skin. She also claimed that the injury was permanent and that she will have to wear long-sleeved clothes for the rest of her life.

The claim for an injury due to a negligent hair removal treatment was contested by Dr. Plunkett, whose legal representatives argued that Paige´s condition was caused by a naturally occurring and known reaction to the treatment. Unable to come to a negotiated settlement, the case was heard by a jury at the Hunterdon County Supreme Court before Judge Michael F. O´Neill.

After nine days of testimony and 3 hours of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Paige – awarding her $1.5 million compensation in resolution of her claim for an injury due to a negligent hair removal treatment.


Judge Upholds Award of Compensation for Drug Side Effects

A judge in Philadelphia has upheld a jury decision to award $11.6 million compensation for drug side effects to the family of a young boy who was born with a cleft palate and unilateral cleft lip.

In November 2013, Haley Powell and Michael Gurley from South Carolina successfully sued Janssen Pharmaceuticals for the side effects suffered by their son – Brayden – due to Haley taking the anti-epilepsy drug Topamax during her pregnancy.

Brayden was born in 2008 with a severe cleft palate and unilateral cleft lip; an abnormal facial development which means that Brayden cannot be understood when he speaks.

Although his condition can be alleviated with surgery, Brayden will have to undergo years of oral and dental surgery and speech therapy as he grows older.

Brayden is also likely to require psychological treatment related to his various surgeries, and in order to help him overcome the emotional challenges associated with having a cleft palate.

After discovering that his birth injuries may be a side-effect of Topamax, the boy´s parents sought legal advice and made a compensation claim for drug side effects against the manufacturer of the drug – Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson & Johnson company.

In their claim for drug side effects compensation, Brayden´s parents claimed that Janssen Pharmaceuticals knew about the potential side effects as early as 1997; but did not inform the medical community until they were ordered to by the FDA in 2011.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals argued that a cleft palate was a prevalent birth defect when measured across the general population and that the plaintiffs would have been sufficiently aware of the safety profile of Topamax at the time Haley used the drug.

When the case was heard at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas last November, the jury found that Janssen Pharmaceuticals had failed to warn Haley´s doctor as to the risks associated with Topamax and awarded the family $11.6 million compensation for drug side effects.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals appealed the decision on the grounds that their case was prejudiced by the admission of certain “irrelevant” evident and the testimonies of two medical experts who introduced adverse event reports from Topamax clinical trial participants.

However, Judge George W Overton denied the company´s request for a new trial – stating that Janssen Pharmaceuticals´ case had not been prejudiced by the adverse event reports because they were germane to causation – and upholding the original jury award of compensation for drug side effects.


Brain-Damaged Woman to get Compensation for Administration of Wrong Medicine

A woman who suffered brain damage after being injected with a nasal decongestant instead of an anesthetic has been awarded $5.1 million compensation for the administration of the wrong medicine by a court in Philadelphia.

On 7 June 2010, Jacqueline DiTore attended the Abington Surgical Centre in Pennsylvania for elective surgery her nose. Prior to starting the surgery, Dr Warren Zager asked a nurse to prepare an injection of 1 percent lidocaine as an anesthetic and cotton wall balls soaked in Afrin to control the bleeding during the procedure.

The nurse poured the Afrin into an unlabeled cup in order to soak the cotton wool balls before preparing the anesthetic; but a second nurse mistook the contents of the cup to be lidocaine and drew the liquid up into a syringe which she then handed to the doctor.

Dr Zager injected the Afrin into Jacqueline´s nose and then started to prepare for the surgery. The anesthetist noticed that Jacqueline´s heart rate had dropped to 36 beats per minute and – unaware that Jacqueline had been injected with Afrin – administered glycopyrrolate (an anticholinergic) which brought Jacqueline´s heart rate back up to 80 beats per minute.

When Dr Zager returned to his patient, Jacqueline still had a sensation in her nose and the doctor asked for more 1 percent lidocaine – but was told that the surgery only had 2 percent lidocaine. It was then that the error was discovered, but Dr Zager chose to proceed with the surgery and used the 2 percent lidocaine to anesthetize Jacqueline´s nose.

Following the injection of lidocaine, Jacqueline´s heart rate leapt to 140 beats per minute with a blood pressure of 260/150 and at that point labetalol was administered (a drug used to lower high blood pressure). This caused Jacqueline´s blood pressure to bottom out and she went into cardiac arrest. Jacqueline passed out and was taken to Abington Memorial Hospital where she was resuscitated.

As a result of the cardiac arrest, Jacqueline suffered brain damage and now has impaired cognitive abilities, difficulty with her sight and speech, and short-term memory loss. Doctors told her that her condition is likely to deteriorate as she gets older and, after seeking legal advice, Jacqueline claimed compensation for the administration of the wrong medicine against the Abington Surgical Centre and Dr Zager.

Both defendant´s denied that they were responsible for Jacqueline´s injury, contesting that Dr Zager was right to continue with the nasal procedure as the lidocaine that was administered in the second injection did not compound the effect of the Afrin and therefore did not contribute to her reaction. It was also argued that Jacqueline was “high-functioning”, and that her injuries were not as bad as they had been portrayed.

Jacqueline´s compensation claim for the administration of the wrong medicine went before Judge Thomas M. Del Ricci at the Montgomery County Court in Philadelphia and, after considerable deliberations, the jury found Dr Zager 38.5 percent negligent and the Abington Surgical Center 61.5 percent negligent – awarding Jacqueline $5.1 million compensation for the administration of the wrong medicine.


Decision on Claims for Side Effects to an HPV Vaccine Not Expected Until 2014

A decision on two sisters´ claims for side effects to an HPC vaccine is not expected until early 2014 following a hearing at the US Federal Claims Court last week.

Madelyne Meylor (20) and Olivia Meylor (19) from Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, both claim that they suffered side effects from the human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) vaccine that was administered to them when they were young teenagers.

Both sisters claim that the vaccine has caused their ovaries to stop producing eggs and resulted in premature menopause. The US Federal Claims Court was told that the sisters now suffer from insomnia, night sweats and headaches and are taking birth control pills as hormone replacement therapy.

Their compensation claims for side effects to an HPV vaccine were made through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and have caused an animated debate over the use of HPV vaccines.

Dr. Thomas Broker – founder of the International Papillomavirus Society – said that if two girls from the same family experience the same side effects from different batches of vaccine that were administered years apart, then the problem has to be genetic.

However, tests for three possible genetic causes of the side effects were negative for both sisters, and Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld – an Israeli specialist in autoimmune illnesses – testified at the hearing that adjuvants present in the HPV vaccine Gardasil could be responsible for the sisters´ condition.

Doses of HPV vaccines have been administered to both boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 12 on the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics to reduce the risk of genital and oral cancers, and millions of doses of Gardasil have been administered since the product was first approved for use in 2006.

Centers for Disease Control in the US have recorded 22,000 instances of side effects to the vaccine in the past seven years, with 8 percent of these being regarded as “serious”. The product was withdrawn from use in Japan in June 2013 after a high number of side effects were recorded, and there has been criticism at home about how the vaccine is marketed.

Two fatalities have been linked with HPV vaccines, and the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has already awarded $5.9 million in settlement of claims for side effects to an HPV vaccine in sixty-eight successful cases.

A decision on the Meylors´ claims for side effects to an HPV vaccine is not expected until the New Year.


Compensation for Fatal Negligent Hospital Procedure Awarded to Widower

The widower of a woman who died following a “routine” hernia operation is to receive £150,000 compensation for fatal negligent hospital procedure in an out-of-court settlement.

Helen Blyth (79) underwent the hernia operation at Northampton General Hospital on 2nd March 2010 after being diagnosed with a large hiatus hernia which had entered her chest through her diaphragm. At 8.00pm on the evening of her surgery, medical staff recorded a fall in Helen´s blood pressure and, at 1.00am on 3rd March 2010, she was found unresponsive. Despite efforts to revive her, Helen died at 1.55am.

At the inquest into Helen´s death in September 2010, the surgeon who performed the operation – Mr David Cubbon Hunter – testified that Helen died due to a rare complication following surgery; however Helen´s husband – Sydney Blyth – asked lawyers to look more closely into the circumstances surrounding Helen´s cardiac arrest and death.

The lawyers – through their medical expert – found that Mr Hunter had used Pro Tack staples during the surgery despite the manufacturer´s advice that their product should not be used in procedures when the hiatus hernia was in the diaphragm. The lawyers alleged that Mr Hunter either knew of the risks involved, and chose to ignore them, or was unaware of the warning – both scenarios being negligent in his line of work.

Sydney made a claim for compensation for fatal negligent hospital procedure against Mr Hunter and the Northamptonshire General Hospital NHS Trust and, after an internal investigation, the Trust acknowledged liability for Helen´s wrongful death and settled Sydney´s claim for £150,000.


Compensation for Allergic Reaction to Eyebrow Wax Treatment Approved in Court

A 17-year-old girl has had a settlement of compensation for an allergic reaction to eyebrow wax approved in court.

The unnamed teenager suffered the allergic reaction after visiting the Crop Beauty Salon in October 2011 where, after her eyebrow treatment had finished, she continued to experience a burning sensation.

By the time the girl returned home her eyebrows had swollen and reddened and she had developed a headache. She attended the Accident and Emergency Department of her local hospital where she was diagnosed with a severe allergic reaction which continued for three weeks.

After seeking legal advice, the girl made a claim for an allergic reaction to eyebrow wax treatment against the salon, claiming that the salon was negligent in failing to ensure that a safe waxing product was used which would not result in an allergic reaction.

The Crop Beauty Salon admitted liability for the girl´s injuries and an out of court settlement of compensation for an allergic reaction to eyebrow wax treatment of 1,000 pounds was agreed. As the girl was still under the age of eighteen, the settlement had to be approved by a court before the allergic reaction to eyebrow wax treatment could be concluded.


Lords Debate Health Risk of para-Phenylenediamine in Hair Dye

The House of Lords recently conducted a debate on the health risks of para-Phenylensiamine in hair dye to raise awareness of the known health issues associated with the chemical, and to ask the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State what steps were being taken by the Government to warn consumers in the UK of its potential risks.  

The debate on the health risks of para-Phenylensiamine in hair dye was led by Baroness Taylor of Bolton, who brought to the House´s attention research published in the British Medical Journal that indicated the frequency of allergic reactions to para-Phenylensiamine (PPD) was increasing and accounted for at least 8 per cent of all allergic reactions treated in hospitals.

Although not advocating the banning of para-Phenylenediamine in hair dye, the Baroness advised the house that the National Hairdressing Federation had several years ago called a conference of all the main colour houses and those bodies which produce hair dye products containing para-Phenylensiamine in the hope of getting better regulation, better advice and more awareness. However nothing ever came of it.

Advocating that a skin patch test should be conducted every three to six months even if the product being used was not changed, the Baroness called on the Government to introduce measures to improve the labelling on hair products containing para-Phenylensiamine in hair dye to advise people on how to use the product safely and with minimum risk to health. Baroness Taylor was supported by Baroness Randerson who asked if the Government kept their own records of people who had suffered an injury due to para-Phenylenediamine in hair dye.

In response to the questions directed at the Government, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills -Baroness Wilcox – replied that the labelling of para-Phenylensiamine in hair dye was regulated by the European cosmetic products directive, which was implemented into UK law as the Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations 2008. Baroness Wilcox added that “the evidence that we [the British Government] have is that the incidence of allergic reactions from hair colorants is 0.3 to 4.3 in every million products sold”.

Baroness Wilcox also claimed that the UK industry’s trade association, the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association, produced very helpful fact sheets on para-Phenylensiamine in hair dye and that as PPD was not known to accumulate in the human body, consumers could use the same product for many years and still develop an allergic reaction. She concluded “We encourage the use of the patch test but will take away from this debate that maybe we are not looking at the issue hard enough at the moment”.

Para-Phenylensiamine in hair dye is believed to be responsible for the death of Tabatha McCourt in October last year and also the cause of mother-of-two Julia McCabe´s lapse into a coma due to an adverse reaction to hair dye containing para-Phenylensiamine.


Adverse Reaction to PPD Hair Dye Leaves Mother in Coma

A mother of two has been given an 8 per cent chance of surviving a coma which medical experts believe may have been caused by an adverse reaction to PPD hair dye.

Julie McCabe (38) from Keighley, West Yorkshire, collapsed at her home on 30th October after using a L’Oreal Preferences hair dye containing the chemical para-Phenylenediamine (PPD) – the same chemical which was blamed for the death of Tabatha McCourt at the beginning of October.

According to her father, Keith Miller, Julie emerged from dyeing her hair struggling for breath and he rushed her to the local Airedale General Hospital. During the journey to the hospital, Julie´s heart stopped beating and, although she was resuscitated on her arrival, Julie was diagnosed with brain damage and lapsed into a coma.

Doctors investigating the cause of Julie´s condition have attributed it to an adverse reaction to PPD hair dye, although further tests are being conducted as Julie regularly dyed her hair every six weeks. Julie´s father believes that a build-up of the chemical was responsible for the adverse reaction to PPD hair dye as Julie conducted the recommended patch test on each occasion she used the hair product.

A spokesperson for the manufacturer of the hair dye, L´Oreal, stated that they were very concerned about the adverse reaction to PPD hair dye and the company has offered to provide samples of their product for testing.


PPD Chemicals in Hair Dye Blamed for Teenage Girl´s Death

A preliminary investigation into the death of Tabatha McCourt has suggested that PPD chemicals in hair dye she was using at the time were responsible for causing the violent fit which lead to the teenager´s death.

Tabatha (17) from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, had been dyeing her hair with a hair product containing para-Phenylenediamine (PPD) at a friend´s home, when she suddenly rushed from the bathroom screaming in agony.  After a period of vomiting she collapsed into a heap and, despite an ambulance being summoned immediately, she died shortly after at Monklands General Hospital, Lanarkshire.

Investigators examining Tabatha´s death have pointed to the PPD chemicals in hair dye – suggesting that Tabatha could have suffered a rare allergic reaction to the chemical. PPD is added to hair dyes as it withstands hot temperatures from hair dryers and does not fade readily with washing and drying.

However, PPD chemicals in hair dye have been identified as a contact allergen which should not be applied directly to the skin, come into contact with the eyes, inhaled or ingested. People who regularly work with PPD chemicals in hair dye have previously reported allergic reactions to PPD and the chemical is believed to also cause lung irritation, damage the nervous system and potentially be carcinogenic.

Although the final cause of Tabatha´s death will not be known until after a post-mortem has been performed, hair dye manufacturers have repeated their advice that nobody should use hair dye containing PPD chemicals without first conducting a 48 hour patch test.