Can Medical Malpractice Turn Chemotherapy Deadly?

He was young, only 21 years old, when he was diagnosed with cancer. This California man was told that he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but a treatment was available. That man underwent treatment at Kaiser Permanente Santa Teresa Medical Center in August of 2005, but he never got the chance to get better.

When Medical Malpractice Turns Chemotherapy Deadly

When the young man started his cancer treatments, his doctor had prescribed the chemotherapy drug cytarabine. This drug was safe to administer directly into the spine, but that’s not the drug that the 21-year-old received.

The pharmacist prepared a syringe of vincristine—another chemotherapy drug—and without checking, the man’s doctor administered it. Vincristine is meant to be given via a vein, not directly into the spine. So, when it was injected into this man’s spine, it slowly caused him to develop dementia and paralysis. By August 29th, he had passed.

Is There Any Way to Prevent This Kind of Medical Error?

Over a decade has passed since this medical error occurred, and people all over the nation are still falling victim to it. Though precise numbers are not known at least 125 documented cases of the fatal misadministration of vincristine have been found. However, there is a solution.

The parents of the 21-year-old who died are going around the country campaigning for hospitals to change their drug administration policies. They want vincristine diluted in IV bags before administration—a proven way to deliver the drug. This would prevent direct injections of the drug into the spine, and it could save many lives in the future.

The campaign is called “Just Bag It,” and it’s estimated that only 50 percent of hospitals use the lifesaving policy. Do you think this policy should be a part of every hospital’s chemotherapy procedures? Do you think there are other ways to prevent this type of medical malpractice? Let your voice be heard on our Twitter and Facebook walls, and keep following our blogs.

This has been brought to you by the Georgia medical malpractice lawyers at the McArthur Law Firm.



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