How Chemotherapy Errors in Oregon Can Result in Personal Injuries
Chemotherapy is a very effective form of therapy for the treatment of cancer. Chemotherapy can be administered with curative intent, or with palliative intent which is to prolong the patient’s life and provide symptom relief. With any type of therapy, there are risks and side effects. Chemotherapy can cause many side effects, even if administered properly. If a physician, nurse or other healthcare provider makes an error in regard to chemotherapy administration, dosing, or otherwise, the patient could suffer serious side effects and complications, including wrongful death. In cases where chemotherapy errors in Oregon occur, this is considered to be medical malpractice.
What are the Side Effects of Chemotherapy?
As stated above, while chemotherapy can be quite beneficial in the treatment of many types of cancer, it can also carry many side effects. This is because while chemotherapy is often quite effective in killing the cancer cells, it is unable to differentiate healthy cells from cancer cells, causing damage to healthy cells as well. This type of therapy is considered cyotoxic, as it interferes with cell division (both healthy cells and cancer cells).
Examples in regard to common side effects of chemotherapy include the following:
- Dry mouth
- Neutropenia (low neutrophil count which puts the patient at greater risk for infection)
- Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count which puts the patient at increased risk for bleeding and bruising
- Weight loss
- Weight gain
- Sexual dysfunction
- Mouth sores
- Sores in the intestines
- Liver toxicity
- Kidney toxicity
- Cognitive impairment
- Change is taste
- Change in smell
- Fertility impairment in women
- Fertility impairment in men
How is Chemotherapy Administered?
Chemotherapy is a very broad term for many different drugs. Chemotherapy is administered in a multitude of ways, including the following:
- IV (intravenous)
- Oral (pills)
- Intrathecal (administration into the spinal cord or subarachnoid space to reach the cerebrospinal fluid)
- Intraperitoneal (into the peritoneal space in the abdomen)
- Subcutaneous (into the fatty tissue)
- Intramuscular (into the muscle)
- Intrapleural (into the pleural lining of the lung(s)
- Topical (applied to a specific place on the body)
Many types of chemotherapy errors in Oregon are the result of mistakes made during administration. These errors are often preventable, but when they occur, they are often excruciating.
What Errors are Made in Chemotherapy Prescribing and Administration?
Sadly, chemotherapy errors occur at a rate of 1-4 per 1000 orders according to the National Library of Medicine. This rate is far too high. In fact, there should never be errors when it comes to chemotherapy prescribing and administration. This is because errors can cause serious bodily harm or can even kill a person. Potential chemotherapy errors in Oregon due to prescribing and administration include the following:
- Medication administration error – if a medication is administered by the wrong route (i.e. given intrathecally instead of IV push), this can cause allergic reaction, severe side effects or even wrongful death
- Wrong dose administered – if a dose of a medication is too high or too low, it can cause serious effects for the patient. While medication overdose is quite serious, so is administering a dose that is too low. This is because if the patient does not receive enough of the medication, it may not be effective in treating their cancer, possibly leading to poor outcomes
- Medication prescribing error – if a physician or other healthcare provider prescribes an inappropriate drug regimen for the patient, it can cause the patient serious harm. Additionally, if the drug regimen that is ordered is indicated for another type of cancer, it may only just cause great side effects to the patient without any clinical benefit in regard to their cancer treatment
- Medication ordering error – if the prescriber prescribes the correct regimen but the wrong medication is still ordered, it can be very dangerous if the pharmacist, nurse or other healthcare provider does not catch the error before administration
- Administration of chemotherapy when the patient is too ill – there are parameters that must be followed for administration of chemotherapy. If a patient’s white blood cell count, platelet count, or hemoglobin is too low prior to administration, if the patient receives the chemotherapy anyway, it could cause great harm to their bone marrow. Additionally, if the patient’s kidney or liver function are abnormal and the chemotherapy is administered anyway, this can lead to serious harm, including permanent organ damage
- Administration of chemotherapy that can cause a drug interaction with another drug the patient is taking. It is a provider’s job to make sure that there are no drug interactions. Additionally, the pharmacist is responsible for ensuring there are no drug interactions. Failure to do so can cause serious adverse reactions for the patient, including wrongful death
- Prescribing and administration of chemotherapy when it is not indicated – In rare instances, there are cases of patients who are diagnosed with cancer when they in fact have a benign condition. This is rare, but failure to realize that can cause the patient to undergo unnecessary treatment for a condition that they do not have. As stated above, chemotherapy can have very serious side effects. Exposure to these drugs unnecessarily can be quite harmful for a patient who does not have cancer
What Potential Complications Can Occur as a Result of Medical Malpractice Related Chemotherapy Errors in Oregon?
As stated above, while chemotherapy can aid a patient greatly in treating their cancer, it can also cause side effects. While some side effects are to be expected or may be unavoidable, there are other instances in which a patient suffers needlessly from side effects due to a healthcare provider’s error. Examples of chemotherapy complications related to medical malpractice include the following:
- Bone marrow damage
- Neuropathy, which may be irreversible
- Permanent organ damage
- Increased risk for bleeding
- Increased risk for bruising
- Diarrhea, leading to dehydration or electrolyte imbalances
- Emotional distress
- Severe anemia requiring a blood transfusion
- Severe thrombocytopenia requiring a platelet transfusion
- Inability to conceive children (sterility)
- Financial distress as medical bills are quite expensive and the individual undergoing chemotherapy may not be able to work
Ask our Portland Medical Malpractice Lawyer for Help With Chemotherapy Errors in Oregon
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form. We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover.
Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton, Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles, St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.
We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.