Childers, Schlueter & Smith is one of the only firms in the country with the specialized knowledge and skill to evaluate and litigate cases involving Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (“SJS”) and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (“TEN”). Our experienced attorneys have obtained favorable settlements for hundreds of SJS/TEN clients and tried many cases to verdict. Our reputation in this area of the law results in many other law firms referring their SJS/TEN cases to us for handling.
SJS is a hypersensitivity reaction involving the skin and the mucous membranes that is often caused by medication. TEN is a continuation of the same disease process; a patient is classified as having TEN when there is more than 30% skin involvement. Over 200 medications are linked to SJS/TEN, some more strongly linked than others. It is believed that more than 500,000 people each year are affected by SJS/TEN, with females being more often affected than males. In many instances, SJS/TEN can be life-threatening and early intervention is critical to a favorable outcome.
Drugs Linked to SJS
The following is a list of some of the drugs that are most commonly associated with SJS/TEN:
- Dilantin/Phenytoin; and
Symptoms of SJS/TEN
The symptoms of Stevens-Johnson syndrome include:
- For the first couple of days, flu-like symptoms such as sore throat, cough, fever and burning eyes;
- Blisters, normally first presenting in or around the mouth;
- Red or purple skin rash;
- Shedding of skin;
- Skin pain;
- Swelling of the tongue;
- Swelling of the face;
Some manufacturers of drugs known to cause SJS/TEN fail to include adequate warnings on their prescribing labels, boxes or package inserts. Many medical
providers also fail to adequately counsel their patients about the early signs of SJS/TEN and the life-threatening implications if the medical intervention is not sought out expeditiously. Therefore, some patients continue to ingest the same drug even after the SJS/TEN disease
process begins, thus, exacerbating the symptoms and worsening the outcome. In one study, medical researchers found that early withdrawal of the causative drug reduced the risk of death by 30% for each day before the development of skin blisters. SJS/TEN is also frequently misdiagnosed resulting in a delay of treatment, which can, in and of itself, be a claim for medical malpractice.
SJS/TEN in Children
According to one source, SJS/TEN is triggered by medications or upper respiratory infection in 74% to 94% of cases. In children, medications are the most common cause of SJS/TEN. Symptoms typically present within the first 8 weeks after initiation, with greater risk at higher doses and with rapid introduction. This is why most drugs strongly associated with SJS/TEN are to be started at very low levels and titrated, or increased, over time, with close monitoring by a physician.
What happens when you are diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome?
There are many possible complications of SJS/TEN, along with varying symptoms. First, the skin reaction can lead to a life-threatening conditions, such as meningitis and sepsis.
Meningitis is an infection of the membrane and fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Sepsis is an inflammatory infection of the whole body. This can occur when bacteria from a major infection enters the bloodstream and spreads throughout the body. It is a life-threatening infection because it can cause shock and organ failure.
If you are diagnosed with SJS/TEN, you may experience eye problems, damage to internal organs and/or permanent skin damage, requiring post-hospitalization follow up with ophthalmologist, pulmonologist and dermatologists, to name a few.
It is highly recommended that if you have, or are suspected of having, SJS/TEN that you seek immediate medical attention and stop taking the triggering medication after consulting with your doctor. Once an SJS/TEN diagnosis is made or suspected, serious consideration should be given to transfer to a designated Burn Center. Information regarding Burn Centers can be found here: (CLICK HERE)
Contact Our Dedicated Drug Injury Attorneys Today
If you or a loved one has recently take an over-the-counter drug or prescription drug and you have developed Stevens-Johnson Syndrome or Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, contact our lawyers at Childers, Schlueter & Smith to see how we can help protect your legal rights. We help patients and families all over the country, and we do so with unparalleled experience and results.