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Our client’s 54-year-old wife died of drug induced liver failure, leaving her husband of 31 years and two adult children. She was being treated with Baycol for high cholesterol by a primary care physician. The PDR recommends liver function studies before placing the patient on the drug (for a baseline) six weeks later, 12 weeks later and then every six months. Her liver function studies for the first three tests were normal. Six months later, the patient missed her follow-up exam, and in that interim was placed on other medications by a mental healthcare professional. Four months later, her Baycol prescription ran out. She called her family doctor and he renewed the prescription without first performing the liver function tests (as 10 months had elapsed since the last one).
Four months later, our client awoke jaundiced and in fulminant liver failure. All other probable causes were ruled out. She passed away 13 weeks later, waiting for a liver transplant. Plaintiff’s experts opined that the family physician was negligent in failing to perform the liver testing in a timely fashion, and that had they been performed before the prescription was renewed, they would have been abnormal, prompting a reversal of her condition. Defendant’s expert opined that although this was probably a drug induced liver failure no one could state with any degree of certainty which drug or combination of drugs were responsible or what her liver enzymes would have been if tested before her prescription was renewed.