Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a severe condition that affects the skin and usually requires immediate hospitalization. Although it’s relatively rare and difficult to predict, learning about its potential causes, symptoms, and treatment options can help you understand it better. Also, since an allergic reaction to a prescribed medication typically causes this syndrome, it may help to learn what your legal options are if it happens to you.
What Is Stevens-Johnson Syndrome?
Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a serious skin disorder that may also affect mucous membranes. Resembling the flu in its initial stages, an adverse reaction to a medication is typically the cause. It then progresses and causes a painful rash and blisters on various parts of the body. The rash usually first appears on the upper body area but then expands to other body parts, such as the arms and legs.
Although they’re not itchy, the development of blisters can cause significant challenges. For instance, if you get them on your lips and inside your mouth, this could make chewing and swallowing food a difficult and painful process. They can also appear on your eyes, causing local pain, impairing your vision, and making it difficult to look at bright lights. Stevens-Johnson syndrome is serious and is unlikely to go away by itself, so if you recognize any of these symptoms, you should see a medical professional as quickly as you can.
What Major Complications Could Stevens-Johnson Syndrome Cause?
Not treating Stevens-Johnson syndrome as soon as possible could result in severe complications. Some of them are:
- Damage to the skin: Improper recovery from Stevens-Johnson syndrome may result in permanent damage to your skin. The tissue that regenerates after being affected by the syndrome may be of a different color than the rest of your skin and have occasional bumps.
- Eye issues: Besides the above-mentioned pain and difficulty in looking at bright lights, improperly treated Stevens-Johnson syndrome can also lead to partial or total visual impairment.
- Sepsis: The blisters associated with Stevens-Johnson syndrome can be gateways for bacteria to enter the bloodstream and spread infection throughout your organism. This process is called sepsis and can lead to organ failure.
- Lung issues: Stevens-Johnson syndrome can also affect the lungs. In some situations, it prevents them from providing the blood with the oxygen it needs, leading to acute respiratory failure.
Who Is Most at Risk of Developing Stevens-Johnson Syndrome?
While Stevens-Johnson syndrome could affect anybody, certain factors can increase your risk of developing it. They include:
- Having a weak immune system: If you have auto-immune diseases or an abnormally weak immune system, your chances of developing Stevens-Johnson syndrome increase significantly. According to the Mayo Clinic, having HIV makes developing Stevens-Johnson syndrome 100 times more likely.
- Having had Stevens-Johnson syndrome in the past: If you’ve already experienced Stevens-Johnson syndrome due to an allergic reaction to a medication, using that medication again is likely to cause a recurrence.
- Having a family history of the disease: If a close relative has had Stevens-Johnson syndrome in the past, your risk of also getting it throughout your lifetime is higher than normal.
- Being a cancer patient: Having cancer, particularly blood cancer, puts you at an increased risk of developing Stevens-Johnson syndrome.
What Should You Do if You Have Stevens-Johnson Syndrome?
Consider taking these steps if you think you may have Stevens-Johnson syndrome:
Seek Medical Treatment
Since Stevens-Johnson syndrome isn’t likely to disappear by itself, the first thing you should do if you experience some of its symptoms is to visit a healthcare provider. They’ll analyze your skin, both visually and by taking a skin biopsy, and confirm your condition. You’ll probably receive specialized dermatologic treatment in a hospital’s intensive care or burn unit. If the condition affects other areas of the body, such as your eyes, you may need to visit specialized medical personnel. You may also receive antibiotics to prevent further infection and other medication to reduce the pain.
Explore Your Legal Options
Many patients develop Stevens-Johnson syndrome as a result of a medical professional mistakenly prescribing a medication to patients with a history of adverse reactions to it. This is medical malpractice and it may entitle you to compensation for your medical expenses, time taken off work, and other physical and emotional challenges that occur as a result of your suffering. Nevada laws include a statute of limitations for malpractice cases, which is three years from when it occurred or one year since you discovered it.
You may also be the victim of medical malpractice if a medical professional fails to identify Stevens-Johnson syndrome promptly. This could lead to serious complications, including a more severe form of the disease called Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis. You should discuss your situation with a legal professional, as they can guide you and help you explore your options. Also, if someone close to you lost their life after suffering from Stevens-Johnson syndrome, you may be eligible to sue and get wrongful death damages, such as funeral expenses and compensation for your loss.
Focus on Treatment and Recovery
It may take weeks and even months to recover from Stevens-Johnson syndrome but following the appropriate treatment can help you make a full recovery. The first step in the treatment process is identifying the medicine that caused the syndrome and stopping its administration. You’ll then probably receive intravenous fluids to keep you hydrated, painkillers to help you deal with the pain, creams to keep the skin protected, and other medicine to prevent additional infection and inflammation.
De Castroverde Personal Injury & Accident Lawyers Can Help You Build Your Malpractice Case
If you or a loved one have contracted Stevens-Johnson syndrome and have reasons to believe it was a result of medical negligence, you may have grounds for a malpractice lawsuit. Contact De Castroverde Personal Injury & Accident Lawyers and we can provide you with expert legal guidance. We’ll work with you to build your case and prove that your situation was avoidable.