In Gentamicin toxicity case, medical malpractice and fraudulent concealment claims are dismissed.
The dismissal of Barbara LaGace's claim against Bay Regional Medical Center was upheld this week by the Court of Appeals. LaGace's orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Brian deBeaubien, was treating an infected knee with Gentamicin and Vancomycin. These antimicrobials must be carefully monitored because at toxic levels they cause vestibular dysfunction (and eventually, severe inner ear damage and complete hearing loss).The surgeon made careful arrangements for monitoring LaGace's blood levels of antibiotic by a visiting nurse, however, when the lab work showed toxicity, the nurse or lab apparently did not report this finding to the physician. As a result, he continued to prescribe the original dose of anti-microbial and LaGace suffered permanent injury. LaGace retained counsel who sued the doctor for failing to respond to the toxic level of antibiotic.
At the doctor's trial, a lab employee testified that in her opinion, the doctor never received a proper report of the toxic level of medication and the jury entered a verdict in the doctor's favor. The attorneys for LaGace then sued the lab and the involved employee for fraudulently concealing evidence. The Court dismissed this claim, holding that LaGace and her attorneys had adequate evidence of the misinformation to sue within the statute of limitations but had not done so. Therefore, her case was barred and no one will be held responsible for causing Ms. LaGace's inner ear injury--even though this toxic side-effect has been a recognized phenomenon for more than two decades.
We recovered damages for a similarly-situated client in the Charlevoix area more than 15 years ago. The problem is particularly wide-spread in older patients whose kidneys do not process the medication and clear it from the body at the normal rate.