Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (“SJS”) and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (“TEN”) involve severe skin reactions, horrific pain, and, often, lengthy hospitalizations. Childers, Schlueter & Smith is a national leader in SJS/TEN claims, and one of few firms with the capability of delivering an efficient and successful resolution to their SJS/TEN clients. Since 2016, Childers, Schlueter & Smith has resolved or obtained jury verdicts for nearly 20 claims on behalf of their SJS/TEN clients with total settlements and jury verdicts of over $30,000,000. Childers, Schlueter & Smith is currently handling numerous SJS/TEN cases, and continues to stay current on relevant, developing legal and medical issues.
Only Qualified Firms Can Secure Just Compensation for your Injuries
The first step to securing fair and just compensation for SJS/TEN injuries is selecting the right firm to handle your case. Many law firms claim to handle SJS/TEN injury claims and cases, but very few have the expertise to properly prepare, file, and prosecute an SJS/TEN claim. Even fewer firms have ever successfully handled an SJS/TEN trial. Before allowing any law firm that claims to have expertise in SJS/TEN cases to handle your case, make sure you ask the following questions:
- 1) How many SJS/TEN claims have you handled in the last five years?
- 2) Do you stay current on the medical issues related to SJS and TEN? If so, how?
- 3) What is the standard of care for medical professionals treating SJS and TEN?
- 4) What types of drugs are most likely to cause SJS and TEN?
- 5) How will you prove in Court that the drug I took caused my SJS or TEN injuries?
If the attorney you speak with cannot answer these simple questions, they might not the right law firm to handle your SJS/TEN claim.
Methods of Proving an SJS/TEN Case
There are a number of individuals or businesses that may be responsible for your SJS/TEN injuries. Successful prosecution of any SJS/TEN cases requires your counsel to carefully and strategically evaluate the following questions:
1) What Caused my SJS/TEN? – According to reliable medical literature, as many as 85%-90% of SJS/TEN cases are caused by a drug. Typically, your treating physicians will tell you which drug is the most likely cause of SJS/TEN. However, skilled defense attorneys (those who defend the case you may ultimately file) will ALWAYS challenge the cause of your SJS/TEN by pointing to another drug you may have taken. Defense may also argue that you lack adequate evidence to prove your SJS/TEN was caused by a drug. Therefore, it is almost always necessary to have this question evaluated by a trained medical professional, qualified to determine what most likely cause of your SJS/TEN. This crucial step is often missed by law firms without experience handling SJS/TEN claims.
2) Was the Drug that Caused my SJS/TEN Defective or Contain Inadequate Warnings? – In many cases, drug manufacturers have identified the association between the drugs they sell and SJS/TEN reactions long before your injury occurred. However, these drug manufacturers may have failed to properly apply warnings to their products. Even worse, some drug manufacturers have ignored credible scientific information, and will decline to add or update its warnings. On the other hand, other drug manufacturers may have added adequate warnings under the law. As a result, claims against such a drug manufacturer would be ineffective. This issue will need to be thoroughly investigated as both a medical and legal issue by experienced counsel to determine if the drug manufacturer is potentially responsible for your injuries. Inexperienced firms who fail to make this evaluation early in the case can lead to disaster for an SJS/TEN victim.
3) Was my Prescribing Doctor at Fault? – Prescription drugs contain warnings for physicians, and, often, specific instructions on the appropriate uses, reasonable doses and adverse effects which physicians must consider before prescribing the drug. Often, this information is directly relevant to SJS/TEN. This information is also available in the current medical literature and other sources, and it is the prescribing physician’s responsibility to consider all of this information when prescribing a drug. A valid SJS/TEN claim may arise if a physician erroneously prescribes a drug for the wrong use or at the wrong dose, or if the physician fails to provide you adequate counseling regarding the drug’s potential to cause SJS/TEN. This must be evaluated by an experienced SJS/TEN attorney in order to fully prosecute your SJS/TEN claim.
4) Was my Pharmacist at Fault? – Most states have special laws applicable to pharmacists which require them to provide “face to face” counseling with respect to all new medications. This may come as a surprise, as many patients become accustomed to the automated “counseling” procedures at most retail pharmacies and supermarket pharmacies. Because SJS/TEN is a progressive disease, proper counseling can provide vital information to the patient to prevent further injury.
5) Were My Subsequent Treating Physicians at Fault? – If you have been diagnosed with SJS/TEN, chances are you were eventually treated by a dermatologist, or perhaps taken to a Burn Center for treatment. Sometimes inexperienced physicians fail to diagnose or consider SJS/TEN as a possible diagnosis. Failure or unwillingness to diagnose may be malpractice. According to recent literature published by both the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Burn Association, treatment of SJS/TEN requires stopping the causative drug to halt progression of the condition and transfer of the patient to a burn center, burn unit, or other specialized treatment center. If your physicians did not instruct you to stop taking the causative drug after your reaction had begun, or sent you home rather than to a burn center, burn unit, or other specialized treatment center, you may have a claim against your treating physicians who failed to properly evaluate and diagnose and manage your SJS/TEN.
Stevens-Johnson Syndrome Injuries linked to Lamictal Use
Practical Handling of SJS/TEN Claims
Childers, Schlueter & Smith, LLC will evaluate your claim with respect to each of these issues, and more, depending upon the circumstances. Inexperienced or unqualified attorneys will not be able to fully evaluate valid SJS/TEN claims and might be improperly pursued. Even worse, when you do file your claim, defense attorneys will identify wrongdoers that an inexperienced attorney has missed, thereby reducing the amount of just compensation that you should receive for your injuries. Here are some practical steps you can take to ensure that justice is served in your case, in addition to hiring an experienced SJS/TEN attorney:
- 1) Save all of your prescription pill bottles and pharmacy instructions that you are provided for medications taken before your SJS/TEN occurred;
- 2) Save all paperwork given to you by medical professionals for all SJS/TEN treatment from your first skin reaction to your last hospitalization;
- 3) Take photographs of areas on your body affected by SJS/TEN and document the day they are taken (do this for each medical appointment and each date of your hospitalization).
What Should You do Now?
If you have been diagnosed with SJS/TEN, you must have an experienced attorney evaluate your claim. SJS/TEN claims are complex and difficult. An attorney without experience in this area will not be able to properly prosecute your claim, and will limit your chances of a positive recovery. Before providing your information to any law firm claims to handle SJS/TEN cases – make that firm provide YOU with information about its experience with SJS and TEN cases. Be sure to save your medical information and document your injuries. There is never a guarantee of a recovery, but by taking these steps you will give yourself the best chance at just compensation for your injuries.
Childers, Schlueter & Smith is well equipped to help you with your potential case, so let us know by giving us a call or by using our contact us form.