Legal Issues

Legal Aspects of Gentamicin Poisoning

In certain cases of gentamicin poisoning, a lawsuit may be brought against the physician, hospital, or home health agency that prescribed or administered gentamicin in a negligent manner. While the negligent administration of gentamicin is not uncommon, not every case of gentamicin poisoning is caused by negligence. Moreover, there may be other reasons why a negligent healthcare provider cannot be sued. The most common reason is that too much time has passed since the negligent administration of gentamicin and the time that a lawsuit can be filed. This page will attempt to explain, in general, what kind of facts and circumstances are necessary for a viable lawsuit against a physician or other healthcare provider responsible for causing gentamicin poisoning

When is a physician negligent in prescribing gentamicin?

The most common circumstances where physicians may be negligent in prescribing gentamicin involve using gentamicin for a long time, at a high dose, or failing to monitor gentamicin blood levels or kidney function. Additionally, there are other, case specific potential violations, such as using gentamicin when a less dangerous alternate antibiotic was more appropriate. There are many, many factors that determine whether a physician or other healthcare provider was negligent in the administration of gentamicin. Although not the general rule, it is possible to suffer gentamicin poisoning without a physician being negligent. Over the years of representing gentamicin victims, we have discovered many areas where physicians or other healthcare providers may be negligent.

The Elements of a “medical malpractice” or “medical negligence” case

The terms “medical malpractice” and “medical negligence” are synonymous. An injured person suing a physician or other healthcare provider is referred to as the plaintiff. The physician or other healthcare provider being sued is referred to as the defendant. In most states, a medical malpractice case requires:

  1. A healthcare provider–patient relationship giving rise to a duty for the healthcare provider to provide competent care to the patient,
  2. The defendant healthcare provider violating or acting outside of the “acceptable standard of care,” and
  3. The violation of the standard of care directly resulting in an injury to the plaintiff.

The term “acting within the acceptable standard of care” usually means acting in conformity with what other reasonably prudent healthcare providers would have done under the same or similar circumstances in the same general geographic area during the same time period. A physician or other healthcare provider may cause you injury, but not be negligent. Every medical procedure has risks. Every day people die or their conditions worsen in the hands of very competent and non-negligent physicians. A physician or other healthcare provider is only negligent when he or she does something that is not reasonable. A plaintiff can only sue when that unreasonable act causes the plaintiff significant harm.

Another basis for bringing a lawsuit against a physician is failure to give informed consent. A physician has a duty to inform his or her patients about the major risks associated with treatment and to get the patient’s consent for such treatment. There are limitations on how detailed this consent must be. Additionally, for a claim against a physician based on failure to give informed consent to be successful, the plaintiff generally must prove that if he were informed of the risks, he or she would not have undergone the procedure. This is usually very difficult.

Who can I contact for more information on my legal rights?

The sponsor of these pages is Keith S. Douglass and Associates, LLP, a law firm located in Spokane, Washington. Keith Douglass has handled over 70 cases of gentamicin poisoning, and has associated with attorneys in many other states to bring claims against physicians and other healthcare providers who have negligently prescribed or administered gentamicin. If you believe that you were injured by the negligent prescription or administration of gentamicin, please feel free to call us at 1-800-245-2889. Contact Us.

This is a general discussion only and is not intended as legal advice for any particular situation. Each state has its own laws governing medical malpractice, and these laws vary widely. Small factual details can make or break a case. If you believe you might have a basis for legal action, it is imperative that you speak directly to an attorney knowledgeable in medical malpractice cases who has some familiarity with gentamicin ototoxicity to obtain legal advice.