Seven-figure recovery for a 65-year-old Washington County woman who suffered a significant injury to her vestibular system as a result of Gentamicin toxicity. The vestibular system is the part of the inner ear, which controls balance. This woman had been on the antibiotic Gentamicin, but her family doctor was not following her lab studies close enough to detect that she was reaching a toxic level of Gentamicin in her blood stream. Gentamicin is known to cause injury to the vestibular system. As a result of her injury, this woman could not walk around her house without holding on to the furniture and would have to use a wheelchair or motorized scooter when she went outside the home.
The dangers of the drug Gentamicin have been well-known for many years. If levels of the drug get too high in the patient's blood stream, he or she can develop "Gentamicin toxicity," which can lead to permanent damage to the vestibular system as was the case here. The vestibular system controls a person's balance. There are two major responsibilities that the doctor has when he or she prescribed Gentamicin. First, you have to do lab work often enough to "track" the levels of the drug, and then if those levels get too high you have to adjust or "tweak" the dosage of the Gentamicin. When blood levels are measured, they are often looking at the "peak" (high point) and "trough" (low point) of the concentration of the drug in the blood stream. You also have to periodically ask the patient how he or she is doing, for example, is he or she developing any symptoms that would suggest he or she has vestibular damage.
Although this client was not employed and, therefore, did not have any wage loss to claim in the case, the major aspect of her damages was how the balance problems had a significant impact on her day-to-day life. We actually went to her house and had a professional video done showing how much trouble she had in getting around even the very familiar surroundings of her home. The video showed that she constantly was reaching to walls or furniture to stabilize herself as she walked. It was very persuasive in showing the other side how real this lady's damages were. Unfortunately, there was no real cure or treatment for her vestibular injury and, therefore, the balance problem was going to be with her for the rest of her life.