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The Misdiagnosis of Medication Side Effects Caused a Young Father To Die of Acute Pancreatitis

One week after starting a new medication for his diabetes, Mr. P presented to his physician’s office complaining of upper abdominal pain radiating to his back. His physician diagnosed him with degenerative disk disease and prescribed pain medication. The physician never considered pancreatitis as a cause of the abdominal pain, and he didn’t order any tests to rule it out, despite the fact that abdominal pain is a cardinal sign of pancreatitis, and pancreatitis is listed as a potentially fatal side effect on the warning label of the medication.

A few days later, Mr. P’s abdominal pain severely worsened, and he was taken to the hospital emergency room by ambulance. Appropriate laboratory tests and a CT of the abdomen were performed, and acute pancreatitis was correctly diagnosed. Mr. P was admitted to the hospital, but — despite aggressive treatment — his condition rapidly deteriorated, and he passed away. An autopsy was performed, confirming pancreatitis as the cause of death. The signs seem to point to the medication error by the physician.

The Eisen Law Firm filed suit on behalf of Mr. P’s wife and young children. The defendant-physician took the position that he did nothing wrong because Mr. P did not have pancreatitis when he presented to his office. Instead, according to the defendant-physician, Mr. P coincidentally developed pancreatitis later – not from the diabetes medication but from an unknown cause. The Eisen Law Firm retained a world-renowned expert on pancreatitis to counter that argument. After the expert witness testified at deposition, a confidential settlement was reached.