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Medication Error Results in Brain Injury and Missed Transplant Opportunity

Ohio Medical Malpractice Case: Background

With rashes on his back, J. Dragar went to the Urgent Care facility near his home. The physician diagnosed him with Shingles and prescribed Valtrex. Unfortunately, the physician gave the “standard dose” instead of the adjusted “renal dose,” despite knowing that Mr. Dragar was on peritoneal dialysis for end-stage kidney disease.

Peritoneal dialysis is different from hemodialysis. While hemodialysis requires an artificial kidney machine to filter blood, peritoneal dialysis does not. Rather than using a machine, peritoneal dialysis uses the lining on the inside of the abdomen as a natural filter for blood. One of the advantages of peritoneal dialysis is that it can be self-managed at home, rather than requiring multiple, hours-long visits to a dialysis center every week.

After Mr. Dragar took the Valtrex as prescribed for a few days, he woke up confused and was having wild halucinations. His daughter called 911, and he was taken to the emergency department.

Mr. Dragar was admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of toxic metabolic

encephalopathy from Valtrex toxicity. His dialysis was increased to a more intensive regimen to help clear the Valtrex from his system. After a week in the hospital, however, he still was suffereing from encephalopathy.

“Encephalopathy” is damage or disease that affects the brain. It happens when there’s been a change in the way your brain works or a change in your body that affects your brain. Those changes lead to an altered mental state, leaving you confused and not acting like you usually do. This is what happened to Mr. Dragar, and it took a while to resolve.

Mr. Dragar was sent to an acute rehab facility to continue the intensive dialysis and help him regain his strength and cognitive function. He spent only a week there and then was sent home. From a cognitive standpoint, Mr. Dragar may have been well enough to take care of his basic daily activities at home, but that is quite different from self-managing peritoneal dialysis. This is a highly technical procedure that requires sterilization and meticulous care and attention because of the risk of infection.

Within a week, Mr. Dragar developed an infection in his abdomen and had to be hospitalized again. This time, his peritoneal dialysis catheter had to be removed, and he had to be placed on full hemodialysis. Then, his old abdominal fistula had to be closed, and a new left arm fistula for hemodialysis had to be created. Since then, he has required hemodialysis three times per week at a dialysis center, instead of nightly peritoneal dialysis at home.

A few months later - after being on the waiting list for nearly five years – Mr. Dragar finally got the call for a kidney transplant. But, prior to surgery, an abdominal ultrasound showed a large collection of fluid in his abdomen caused by scar tissue from the removal of the peritoneal catheter. The transplant surgery had to be cancelled. This was devastating news to Mr. Dragar and his family.

Mr. Dragar had the fluid drained and was sent to a local rehab facility for several weeks. He also resumed his hemodialysis schedule.

Ohio Medical Negligence Case: Investigation

Mr. Dragar hired The Eisen Law Firm to handle his medical negligence case. Todd Gurney, lead attorney on the case, quickly got to work reviewing medical literature and consulting with medical experts. Mr. Gurney reviewed thousands of pages of medical records himself, as The Eisen Law Firm does not rely on paralegals to do the work.

Mr. Gurney also consulted with medical experts familiar with the medical issues in the case. The key expert in this case was a highly qualified internal medicine physician and Professor at Brown University. This expert said the lingering encephalopathy obviously prevented Mr. Dragar from meticulously performing the necessary sterilization for his peritoneal dialysis, and that is what caused his infection.

Ohio Medical Malpractice Case: Litigation, Negotiations and Settlement

Due to the egregious medical error and the dilligent prepartion by Todd Gurney, this case did not go to trial. Rather, The Eisen Law Firm was able to settle the case at mediation. Mr. Dragar received compensation for the medical bills he incurred as a result of the physician’s mistake. In addition, he received the maximum amount of money damages available under the law for his “pain and suffering.”

The Eisen Law Firm: Medical Malpractice. Exclusively

The Eisen Law Firm has been handling medical malpractice claims for over four decades. We are a boutique law firm and, in fact, handle only medical negligence cases.

This focus enables us to have a deep understanding of both the medical aspects and the legal aspects of a medical negligence case. Mr. Gurney reviewed numerous medical journals and had to understand the details of how medicine worked in Mr. Dragar’s condition as well as the legal and strategic aspects of preparing a case for trial.

In addition to our proven results, The Eisen Law Firm is ready to spend whatever it takes to properly and thouroughly prepare our cases for trial. We do not borrow funds to finance a case and then charge interest to clients (yes, hard to believe, but many other firms participate in this type of practice).

We also limit our practice to about eight active cases at a time. This means we often turn down potentially lucrative cases so that we can focus our attention on our existing clients.

Our medical malpractice focus, combined with our selectivity in accepting cases and our commitment to our clients, allows us to provide people like Mr. Dragar some closure in their medical error cases.