Prescription Drug Injuries as a Result of Medical Negligence in Mississippi


When a Mississippi patient is hurt by a prescription drug that is prescribed by a treating physician, he or she may have a claim against the drug manufacturer. While many patients injured by a dangerous drug file product liability suits against a manufacturer, some cases involving health problems due to a prescription medication arise because of medical negligence.

A doctor that fails to meet the standard of care in prescribing medications may be held accountable in a medical malpractice case. Doctors should advise of potentially serious side effects or risks associated with medications as well as any precautions that should be taken. However, whether a doctor should advise of a particular risk or precaution depends on the particular drug and the medical literature surrounding it.

In a recent case, a patient filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against her cardiologist. The cardiologist had treated her for two years for heart problems, prescribing the drug Cordarone for her. After she started taking the drug, the plaintiff experienced blurred vision. A neuro-ophthalmologist believed the patient’s vision loss was related to the drug.

She sued the doctor, alleging medical negligence, and retained a pulmonologist to review the records and opine whether the doctor should have warned her of potential vision problems and failing to advise her to get regular eye examinations with an ophthalmologist.

At his deposition, the pulmonologist testified that a physician who prescribes drugs should have knowledge of the drug and its side effects and warn patients about side effects, as well as what follow-up they will need. He testified that the doctor had breached the standard of care by failing to refer the plaintiff for eye examinations and failing to advise of the severe side effect of blindness. The 2002 Physicians’ Desk Reference had noted that regular ophthalmic examinations are recommended while Cordarone is being administered.

At trial, the plaintiff planned to introduce the pulmonologist and another expert’s deposition testimony at trial because they were not available to testify. The cardiologist defendant moved to strike this evidence, arguing that neither of the experts’ opinions were supported by peer-reviewed literature. He also tried to offer a journal article into evidence that stated the causal link between the drug and optic neuropathy had never been firmly established.

The plaintiff objected, but the judge overruled the objection and permitted the article into evidence. He excluded the causation testimony of the plaintiff’s expert.

The cardiologist moved for summary judgment, which was granted because the plaintiff didn’t have admissible expert testimony showing causation. The plaintiff appealed.

The plaintiff argued on appeal that the journal article caused unfair surprise or trial by ambush. The appellate court explained that the journal article was consistent with the basis of previous testimony by the plaintiff’s experts and a previously filed motion in limine. Both of the experts testified no medical literature supported a finding of a direct causal relationship between Cordarone and optic neuropathy. The article merely reinforced the plaintiff’s experts’ opinions.

The appellate court also reviewed the defendant’s motion in limine to strike testimony. The appellate court explained that a judge’s decision about the admission of expert testimony is within a trial judge’s discretion unless it is exercised arbitrarily or is clearly erroneous.

Under Rule 702, a trial court can permit an expert (someone qualified by knowledge, skill, or education) to offer an opinion during a trial if scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge would help the trier of fact to understand evidence or decide a fact that is in issue. However, the testimony must be based on sufficient facts, the testimony must be the product of reliable principles and methods, and the witness must have applied principles and methods reliably to the facts.

The appellate court affirmed the lower court, ruling that the judge had properly found the plaintiff’s pulmonologist had testified in a way that lacked support by peer-reviewed literature or PDR. It also found that the testimony had failed to meet Rule 702 in that the plaintiff had not shown the doctor’s testimony was derived from reliable principles and methods.

In a medical malpractice case, a plaintiff must show that a defendant physician failed to meet the standard of care. In this case, the plaintiff had not submitted admissible evidence to dispute the cardiologist’s claim of meeting the standard of care, and therefore the judge had properly granted summary judgment.

If your or a loved one is severely injured due to a prescription drug that was improperly prescribed, the knowledgeable Mississippi personal injury attorneys of Coxwell & Associates may be able to help pursue the damages you deserve and need.

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Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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