Drug caused woman's skin to peel off, suit seeks $1.9 million

Kelly Holleran Nov. 17, 2009, 9:31am

A woman died at Atrium Health Care and Rehabilitation Center of Cahokia after employees administered her a drug that caused more than half of her skin to peel off, the administrator of her estate claims.

Rosetta Helms filed a lawsuit Nov. 10 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against 17 defendants, all of whom she blames for repeatedly giving the deceased Earlene Taylor a drug that caused her to experience a severe allergic reaction.

Helms claims Taylor had been living in defendant River Bluffs Health Care and Rehabilitation Center of Cahokia and its successor, defendant Atrium, since 1996. There, nurses should have known of Taylor's allergies, including her allergy to any medications containing Sulfonamide, but failed to include her allergies on an admission and assessment form.

So, despite Taylor's susceptibility to the medication, employees administered Bactrim, a drug containing Sulfonamide usually used to treat infections, to Taylor from Nov. 16 through Nov. 20, 2007. Taylor had just returned to the nursing home after spending days at defendant Kenneth Hall Hospital where doctors treated her for an exacerbation of her asthma, bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to the complaint.

At Kenneth Hall, doctors prescribed the Bactrim to Taylor to treat her symptoms, the suit states.

"As a direct and proximate result of the aforesaid negligent acts or omissions, on or about November 20, 2007, the plaintiff's decedent sustained a severe reaction to the administration of Bactrim, D.S., she developed multiple large open areas in the skin over large portions of her body, portions of her skin sloughed off; the skin over her entire body became 'tented' and she developed red blistering over the back of her legs, her neck and her back and she developed toxic epidermal necroysis, causing her skin to slough off, she lost 55% of her active skin, she had a positive Nikolsky sign, she had whole body erythema, lesions, blisters and sloughing; that the aforementioned conditions caused extreme pain and suffering and she was admitted to a burn unit, where, on or about, November 24, 2007, she died," the suit states.

Because of her death, Earlene Taylor's next-of-kin suffered the loss of her services, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, love, affection, training and support and have suffered grief and sorrow. In addition, they incurred medical costs of about $1,200 and funeral expenses of about $100,000, the complaint says.

In addition to Atrium, River Bluffs and Kenneth Hall, other defendants named in the suit include Touchette Regional Hospital, LPN Jennifer Simpson, LPN Susan Brown, LPN Kimberly Fowler, LPN Natasha Turner, RN Lanorris Yates, LPN Ruth Luchett, Southern Illinois Health Care Access, Home Pharmacy Services, Omnicare, Dr. Benedicta Umora, Southern Illinois Regional Wellness Center, Kenneth Hall Medical Group and Medicate Pharmacy.

In the 38-count suit, Helms seeks a judgment of more than $1.9 million, plus costs.

Ross T. Anderson of East St. Louis will be representing her.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-607.

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