In yet another attempt by lawyers to get around tort limits on medical malpractice cases, Rob Oliver, Jr, MD, casts a critical eye on how, as he puts it, "the American trial bar is once again attempting to establish a game plan for circumventing liability protection that the FDA grants drug and device manufacturers after going thru the FDA approval process."
The case in point is this week's New York Times story, Drug Label, Maimed Patient and Crucial Test for Justices, the case of a patient who had an inadvertent injection by a allied health provider (not a doctor)of a widely used anti-nausea medication (phenergan) into an artery in her hand and eventually suffered an amputation as a result of complications. This drug has been used for decades, and is both safe and cheap. The manufacturer of the drug is essentially being sued for a labeling issue where they claim that warnings about her particular complication were not prominent enough.
This type of action is embarrassing for our legal system, and demonstrates the great American legal tradition of finding the deepest pocket and suing the hell out of it. In this instance, the medical center already settled with this patient, but they're going for the big $$$$. While this individual had a terrible thing happen, it's not even clear that true malpractice even happened. Fines and putative damages on industry in these cases should be paid to the feds rather then individuals so as to remove the financial incentive for these ridiculous cases beyond economic damages.