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Medical Professionals Reference (MPR)Ignoring Boxed Warning Foils Doctor’s Attempt at Dismissal From Malpractice Lawsuit

The case involves a 73-year-old patient, Ms. B, who had a history of rheumatoid arthritis and was taking prednisone for adrenal insufficiency caused by a pituitary tumor. She was treated by an internist, Dr. R, for various ailments over a period of four years. In November 2016, Ms. B was diagnosed with severe community-acquired pneumonia and admitted to the hospital, where she was treated with levofloxacin. After being discharged, she continued taking levofloxacin and suffered an acute rupture of the gluteus medius tendon, resulting in significant disabilities. Ms. B filed a lawsuit against Dr. R, alleging negligence and failure to inform her about the risks and contraindications of the medication. Dr. R sought a summary judgment to have the case dismissed but was denied by the court.

The court ruled that a Boxed Warning on a medication, such as the one associated with levofloxacin, can create a triable issue of fact regarding a physician’s departure from accepted medical practice. Dr. R claimed he was unaware of the risks and relied on the hospitalists’ choice of medication, but the court found that he should have been knowledgeable about the specific risks and suitability of the medication for his patient. The case against Dr. R was not dismissed.

Physicians should be aware of Boxed Warnings on medications and understand the associated risks. In this case, Dr. R failed to consider the risks of levofloxacin and continued prescribing it without evaluating its suitability for the patient. It is crucial for physicians to stay informed about the risks and contraindications of medications with Boxed Warnings and assess their patients’ candidacy for such medications to avoid potential medical malpractice claims.

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