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Gentamicin poisoning: what is it and can I claim?

Gentamicin poisoning

Clinical negligence is an extremely complex area of personal injury law, and, as a result, many clinical negligence claims take much longer to settle compared to claims for road traffic accidents or accidents at work. In a previous article, we discussed how you can make a clinical negligence claim for undiagnosed fractures, and today, we’re going to discuss the topic of gentamicin poisoning.

If you’re going into hospital, either for a routine procedure or an emergency, the last thing you’ll be thinking about is what medication you’re given. Chances are, when you’re taking medication, you’re only thinking about how long it will take before you start to feel better, not whether the drug is the right one, or whether you have been prescribed the right dose. Unfortunately, mistakes do happen and doctors can over-prescribe a certain drug, potentially leading to medical complications later on.

One such drug that is commonly associated with clinical negligence claims is gentamicin, a widely-used antibiotic for the treatment of bacterial infections such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile.

Why is gentamicin associated with clinical negligence?

Gentamicin has been proven safe for use on humans, and the drug is trusted by doctors across the world. It must be stressed that if a doctor prescribes you gentamicin, you don’t need to worry as it perfectly safe if used correctly. Unfortunately, gentamicin can be extremely toxic to humans if taken for a sustained period of time; it is a very powerful drug that a doctor must take great care with when prescribing. Doctors must take into account each individual patient’s age, weight, height, kidney functions and medical history to ensure the correct dosage is selected.

If the wrong dosage is prescribed, gentamicin can lead to a number of serious side effects as the drug is potentially ototoxic, meaning too much of it can damage the parts inside a patient’s ear, including the cochlea, auditory nerve and vestibular system. Large doses of gentamicin can also lead to kidney failure in serious cases. Other, less common symptoms of gentamicin poisoning include nerve damage, memory loss, problems with balance, oscillopsia and death.

How to claim for gentamicin poisoning

If you have experienced any of the symptoms mentioned above, the first thing you need to do is see your doctor immediately. Gentamicin poisoning can be difficult to diagnose, and you shouldn’t hope that your symptoms subside without medical assistance.

Once you are diagnosed with gentamicin poisoning, you’ll then need to prove that you contracted it because of negligence on the part of your medical practitioner(s). To prove the negligence, you’ll need to show that your gentamicin was either prescribed at a high dose, prescribed for a prolonged period of time, or that your care wasn’t properly monitored by your medical team. You’ll also need to prove that the medical care you received fell below the acceptable standards expected of a competent doctor.

Once you feel that you have the evidence needed to bring a claim, you also need to be aware of time frames relating to clinical negligence claims in the UK. With most medical claims, you have three years from the point you were first made aware of your condition (that is, the date of diagnosis) to make a compensation claim.

Once we have received your claim, we will contact the other parties involved and, if they admit fault, a financial settlement will be agreed. If they do not admit to the negligence or the compensation offer is unacceptable, we will then take the legal proceedings to court to ensure a fair and accurate amount of compensation is awarded.

If you are thinking about making a gentamicin poisoning claim, speak with one of our solicitors today. Our team has the legal experience and know-how to ensure you receive a fair amount of compensation for your injuries. To speak with one of our legal team, contact us today on 0800 156 0770, email or fill in one of our claim evaluation forms.