Gentamicin poisoning claims
Gentamicin is a type of antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections. It belongs to a group of antibiotics known as aminoglycosides. Other antibiotics in this family include Tobramycin, Streptomycin, Neomycin, Amikacin and Netilmicin.
Gentamicin is a particularly strong type of medication and is often used a last resort treatment for bacteria that have become resistant to other forms of antibiotic, such as MRSA and C Difficile infections. It may also be used to treat severe and life threatening infections of the lung, skin, bone, stomach, blood and urinary tract.
Gentamicin is also used to treat severe infections in new born babies.
Whilst gentamicin is a very useful drug in the treatment of infections, it can however lead to serious side effects if the dose given is too high or if it given for too long.
If administered incorrectly or for a prolonged period of time gentamicin can cause a condition known as “gentamicin toxicity” or “gentamicin poisoning”, which can cause:
- kidney damage, potentially leading to kidney failure;
- nerve damage;
- ototoxicity (damage to the ear, such as hearing loss, vertigo or ringing in the ears (tinnitus));
- balance disorders;
- problems with memory, concentration and fatigue;
- problems with vision.
When might I have a claim?
It is important that gentamicin is prescribed with the utmost care. The correct dose must be calculated according to the patient’s age, height and weight. The patient’s hearing and kidney function should be measured and then regularly monitored throughout treatment. If there are concerns, the time interval between doses should be increased or a lower dose considered.
Careful monitoring of blood levels is required to ensure that the levels of gentamicin in the blood do not reach dangerous levels. If levels are dangerously high, the dosage should be adjusted accordingly. This monitoring should continue for as long as the patient is taking gentamicin.
The side effects of gentamicin toxicity, such as kidney damage, hearing loss, tinnitus and vertigo can be debilitating. Further, the physical and mental effects can be devastating and often result in extensive financial losses. Patients can be left unable to work and requiring additional care from family members. Sometimes adaptations are required to the patient’s property if they are suffering from mobility problems or balance disorders.
You may have a clinical negligence claim if the medical staff responsible for your care did not take the proper steps to minimise the risk gentamicin toxicity or recognise the symptoms at the earliest opportunity.