Is Stevens Johnson Syndrome a Drug Allergy Reaction?
What is Stevens Johnson Syndrome?
Stevens Johnson Syndrome, or SJS, is a serious disease that is often caused by a drug allergy reaction. SJS can be life-threatening. Individuals with SJS often must be hospitalized to receive the proper care and treatment due to the severity of the condition.
SJS starts as a red or purple rash that worsens, leading to blisters and peeling. If a person with SJS does not receive the appropriate treatment, the rash will continue to spread on the body. Once the rash covers more than 30% of the body, this is called toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). TEN is a worse form of SJS. In severe cases of SJS or TEN, a person may also experience organ damage.
In patients with SJS or TEN, the skin begins to peel because the top layer of skin has died. This is called sloughing. Sloughing is extremely painful and requires treatment similar to the treatment that a burn victim would receive in a Burn Unit. For this reason, SJS and TEN is often treated in a Burn Unit or other specialized care center. It can take up to several months to recover from SJS or TEN as the body must heal from the drug reaction and the skin must grow back.
Common Medications that Cause Stevens Johnson Syndrome:
- Gout medications, such as Allopurinol
- Antiseizure medications
How is Stevens Johnson Syndrome Treated?
1. Discontinue all Non-Life Sustaining Medications
Since SJS and TEN can be caused by drug allergy reactions, the first step in treatment is to discontinue all drugs that are not sustaining life. This prevents the SJS from worsening and allows doctors and other healthcare professionals to identify which drug caused the SJS. Doctors and other healthcare professionals are required to determine which drug caused the SJS so the drug is not prescribed to the patient again in the future.
2. Treating Skin Wounds
The skin is the largest organ of the body that serves as a barrier to prevent bacteria, dirt, and other germs from entering the body. Because the top layer of skin dies and sloughs off, appropriate treatment is important to protect the body. Without appropriate treatment, the body is more susceptible to infections including sepsis, dehydration, and other complications.
3. Transfer Patient to a Burn Unit or Other Specialized Care Center
Individuals with SJS or TEN will need to receive treatment in a Burn Unit or other specialized care center because the injury to a person’s skin and body as a result of SJS or TEN is similar to the injuries of a person who was in a fire or an explosion. Patients with SJS or TEN require the expertise of doctors and other healthcare professionals who routinely deal with burn victims to ensure they receive proper and timely care for this very serious condition.
When Does Medical Malpractice Occur in the Treatment of Stevens Johnson Syndrome/TEN?
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor fails to identify that you are having a drug allergy reaction and fails to take the appropriate steps to treat the drug allergy reaction.
Failure to identify the drug allergy reaction or failure to obtain appropriate treatment for the drug allergy reaction can worsen the SJS or TEN. It is important to receive appropriate treatment for SJS or TEN in a timely manner because SJS and TEN can cause severe complications, such as infections, sepsis and even death. Doctors and other healthcare professionals are guilty of malpractice when they fail to recognize a drug reaction is SJS or TEN and fail to give the patient the appropriate treatment.
Further, once an individual has a reaction to a drug, that person must avoid that drug for the rest of their life. Doctors are required to look at a patient’s drug history and determine that any drug a doctor is prescribing is safe for that patient. If a doctor fails to recognize that a patient had a reaction to a previously prescribed drug, the doctor prescribes that drug again, and the patient develops SJS or TEN, this is negligence.
Contact Vinkler Law Offices Drug Allergy Reaction Attorneys in Chicago
At Vinkler Law Offices, our personal injury attorneys have extensive experience in drug allergy reaction cases. If you or a loved one has suffered a drug allergy, Stevens Johnson Syndrome, or Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, you need experienced injury attorneys that will fight for you and your family to obtain fair and just compensation for your injuries.
Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation at 630-655-9545.