Malpractice Lawsuit Over SJS Reaction Results in $120M Verdict

A medical malpractice lawsuit brought against three New York hospitals has resulted in a $120 million jury award for a woman left brain damaged and permanently disabled by a nearly-lethal drug reaction, known as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS).

Jacqueline Martin, 45, sought treatment for seizures in February 2004 at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn and Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center. The lawsuit alleged that she developed Stevens-Johnson Syndrome due to a reaction to an anti-seizure medications, which medical staff at the hospitals were slow to recognize and diagnose.

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is a reaction that can be caused by several medications, where the skin begins to burn from the inside out, producing blisters, severe rash and the skin may separate from the body. When the skin lesions affect more than 30% of the body, the condition is typically referred to as toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN).

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Treatment for SJS or TEN typically involves inpatient care at a hospital Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or Burn Unit, and the conditions can be fatal in many cases.

Martin suffered swelling of the face, eyes and throat at first, and eventually suffered permanent brain damage from the SJS reaction. According to the complaint brought by Martin’s mother, she endured a month of inadequate care at the three facilities, which exacerbated her condition.

Following trial, a jury found that Jacobi Medical Center was 50 percent responsible for the injuries, Kings County Hospital was 40% responsible, Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center was 5% responsible and Martin was 1% responsible. The jury awarded about $120 million in damages; one of the largest medical malpractice verdicts in New York City history.

While most Stevens-Johnson syndrome lawsuits have traditionally been brought against the manufacturers of medications that contained inadequate warnings about the risk of developing the reaction, a growing number of medical malpractice lawsuits over SJS reactions have been brought against hospital and health care providers for failing to adequately recognize and diagnose the life-threatening condition.

2 Comments

  • angelaJune 3, 2014 at 12:06 am

    I had sjs in jan 2013 took lomotrigine from a pychatrist.. Went to primary dr on a mon complained of fever cough didn't feel well told me I had a cold gave me meds. went back to him on wed eyes pussing he gave me eye drops went back on thurs had yeast infection.he gave yeast infection meds on fri called ambulance cause I had a black rash on face and back emergency room drs told me I had sjs spen[Show More]I had sjs in jan 2013 took lomotrigine from a pychatrist.. Went to primary dr on a mon complained of fever cough didn't feel well told me I had a cold gave me meds. went back to him on wed eyes pussing he gave me eye drops went back on thurs had yeast infection.he gave yeast infection meds on fri called ambulance cause I had a black rash on face and back emergency room drs told me I had sjs spent 7 days in icu burn unit Out of the three days I went to this dr he never diagnosed this or even told me to go to emergency room can I sue him?

  • NancyMay 31, 2012 at 4:06 am

    I feel for this women and her family, and I am grateful the jury did the right thing in this case. I have a son (Ricardo Rivera 5A10) at Jacobi Medical Center; he went into the hospital (over a year ago) through the ER for a passing gall stone and still there today. He should have been released in a few weeks; however, due to gross negligence ((stage IV bed sore, catheter left on too long that ca[Show More]I feel for this women and her family, and I am grateful the jury did the right thing in this case. I have a son (Ricardo Rivera 5A10) at Jacobi Medical Center; he went into the hospital (over a year ago) through the ER for a passing gall stone and still there today. He should have been released in a few weeks; however, due to gross negligence ((stage IV bed sore, catheter left on too long that caused a urinary tract infection, urine going into the bedsore causing sepsis, treated sepsis with antibiotics causing jaundice and then c-diff, then resistance to antibiotics to treat c-diff, operations not needed when he went into the hospital in May/2011 - that we believe were blotched, several infections and hospital bugs, scabies (mites) he got at the hospital that bit him alive for months before diagnosed correctly, many false diagnoses, put on medications for illness he does not have, and the list goes on and on.. including the dental clinic "refusing" to treat him for dental work needed on his teeth that lead my 28 year old son to lose most of his teeth and suffers to this day with exposed nerves from teeth that the fillings fell out...about 10 overdoses on pain medication for tooth pain, untreated for Transverse Myelitis which has left him unable to even move his legs anymore, colostomy bag and tube in his bladder and bed ridden)), and they show NO REMORSE. My son has a few nurses and doctors that show him respect and compassion, the rest treat him like he is a piece of garbage. The hospital even brought in a Judge to take away his rights (to leave and get treatment at a different hospital) with affidavits full of lies he had kidney failure, when his insurance company looked through his medical records (if not destroyed by now, heard they do that when they are afraid of law suits) he had PERFECT kidneys. I felt like my son was KIDNAPPED by the hospital, and this hospital abused and used the system (bringing in a judge to hold my son there, based on lies), to protect them from a lawsuit - by taking away my sons rights (and mine as the mother) to sue them, or even get him OUT of there. I prayed with my son the other night that Jacobi would be exposed (using the Media), so this article is an answer to our prayers. The few good doctors, nurses, pca's, front desk/to get passes, and hospital police - I am THANKFUL for. The rest I feel should face criminal charges for falsifying medical records, gross negligence, perjury, malpractice, and so on. I also feel the Judge and court appointed attorneys for those staged hearings (to hold patients hostage) should be indicted. Doctors that make false diagnoses to cover neglect and/or test pharmaceutical drugs on patients - should lose their license to practice medicine. Jacobi "is" the worst hospital in the COUNTRY. There is no accountability at this place; you report them to 311 and other government agencies, and told it is a civil matter and need to hire an attorney. Meantime you have to be bed-side with your loved one, and do not have time or the money for any attorney. I hope this person gets EVERY cent they were awarded, and no appeal is granted. Once this hospital (Jacobi) and any others involved have to pay up and be accountable for their actions, this abuse/neglect/malpractice may cease. My love and prayers go out to the family that has endured this pain and suffering, and they are hero's in my mind - to stand up to those that hurt their family member. I thank them also for paving the way for others (like us) to see our case is not an isolated case, this "is" the practice of this facility (Jacobi), and until someone oversees them and makes changes - many more will suffer in that place. Thank you AboutLawSuits for having the courage to share this. Tonight I had to get the ADN to get a doctor because my son was overdosed, and the nurses did not recognize it, and on the 19th he was left for four hours without pain medication and suffered. See: youtube videos on Jacobi of my son Ricardo Rivera, and the night he suffered under-medicated for dental work not done at this hospital, and left to suffer. Prior to that video and tonight, he was over-medicated - they just cannot seem to get it right. And, because this hospital "abuses the system" (using a judge to hold people hostage there), I can NOT get my son out to another hospital. I plead for help for my son, as I share this. At the same time I feel for the family that also suffered from malpractice at this facility, and am happy that they got the compensation they so rightly deserved. Honestly, they did not get enough (although some think this amount was excess), because unless you experience the pain and suffering emotionally and physically, of malpractice perpetrated on you or your loved one, from a hospital - you will never know how much it hurts, and there is NO amount of money that can give you your health back and/or your life back. I have contacted probably every level of government about my son's case, and I hope that SOMEONE will step in and help him. I could not find a private attorney to help us at this time.

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