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Coumadin and Heparin Errors

Syracuse Lawyers for Medical Malpractice

Coumadin and heparin are blood thinners or anticoagulants. Because a blood clot can cause a heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis and even death, physicians prescribe blood thinners to prevent a patient’s blood from thickening and clotting and to pull apart any existing blood clots. Coumadin and heparin errors may occur when physicians prescribe an incorrect dosage or fail to screen for adverse drug interactions. If you suspect you were injured or a loved one died due to physician or pharmacist error, you should discuss your case with a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano.

Coumadin and Heparin Errors

Although they are similar drugs, Coumadin and heparin are prescribed differently. Coumadin is usually taken as a daily pill. The dosage of Coumadin is determined by performing a prothrombin time test that measures how quickly clotting occurs in your blood. Heparin is often administered through an IV at the medical practice with the dosage dependent on the patient’s weight. However, you may be asked to inject low molecular weight heparin at home.

Coumadin and heparin errors can result in serious or even fatal harm. Errors may involve a failure to check drug interactions, failure to monitor a patient’s blood, or failure to prescribe the proper dosage. While Coumadin and heparin are being taken, the physician should regularly monitor the patient’s blood to detect any excessive bleeding and adjust the medication as appropriate. Coumadin and heparin can interact adversely with other medications taken by a patient, and the prescribing doctor must check the patient’s history and existing prescriptions to ensure that Coumadin or heparin will not cause injury. In some cases, doctors fail to teach their patients that specific foods or medications should be avoided while on these drugs. Also, when doctors prescribe an improper dosage, the result may be serious bleeding in the brain, heart or throughout the body.

Liability for Coumadin and Heparin Errors

If you were harmed by Coumadin or heparin, you need to determine what caused your injuries in order to bring suit against the proper parties. Injuries caused by errors made in prescribing or administering Coumadin or heparin may be addressed through a medical malpractice lawsuit. In order to establish your case, you will need to show: (1) the defendant owed you a professional standard of care to you in connection with Coumadin or heparin, (2) deviation from the professional standard of care, (3) causation, and (4) damages.

You will likely need to retain an expert to determine what the professional duty of care was, how your doctor deviated from it, and whether that deviation caused injuries. In New York, the courts follow the locality rule, under which the professional standard of care depends on the accepted medical practices of reasonably competent health care providers in the same specialty and geographic location when dealing with the same circumstances. Usually, the plaintiff’s lawyer will need to consult with an expert even before filing your case because they must file a certificate of merit attesting to the consultation.

Doctors sometimes defend against these claims by asserting that another party contributed to the injuries. Other potentially responsible parties could include the pharmaceutical company and the pharmacist.

Additionally, New York is a comparative negligence state. Your damages will be reduced by an amount equal to your percentage of fault for your own injuries. For instance, if you changed doctors and provided a false answer regarding the medications you were on, and then sustained an injury from an adverse drug interaction, the jury may reduce your damages because you were partly responsible for the resulting injuries.

Wrongful Death in New York

If your loved one’s Coumadin or heparin therapy was mismanaged such that he or she died, you may be able to recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. For example, if a doctor prescribed Coumadin after a mechanical aortic valve replacement but misjudged the dose and failed to adequately monitor the blood, the doctor may be liable if your loved one bled to death as a result. In that case, you may be able to show medical malpractice caused the death and recover any pecuniary losses arising out of the improper dosage.

Consult a Syracuse Attorney

If you believe you were harmed or a loved one died because of a Coumadin or heparin error, you should discuss what happened with DeFrancisco & Falgiatano. Our lawyers represent patients in Rochester, Syracuse, and other Upstate New York cities. These cities include Oswego, Lyons, Oneida, Cooperstown, Binghamton, Auburn, Canandaigua, Wampsville, Watertown, Ithaca, Utica, Elmira, Lowville, and Herkimer. Contact DeFrancisco & Falgiatano at 315-479-9000 or complete our online form.

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