Man claims ototoxic drugs caused imbalance

Kelly Holleran Jan. 25, 2010, 5:43am

An O'Fallon man has filed suit against Washington University and Barnes Jewish Hospital, alleging doctors prescribed him medication that led to a loss of his balance.

Russell Sparger claims he began going to Washington University and Barnes Jewish Hospital in July 2007 for dialysis treatments. During the course of Russell Sparger's treatments, doctors prescribed him ototoxic antibiotics, including gentamycin, according to the complaint filed Jan. 19 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Soon, Russell Sparger began experiencing balance problems, so he started visiting Washington University's and Barnes Jewish Hospital's Department of Neurology and Department of Otolaryngology, the suit states.

However, doctors failed to recognize that Russell Sparger's medication was causing him to experience bilateral vestibular loss, which occurs when both of the inner ears' balance portions are damaged. The condition can lead to balance problems and visual symptoms, including blurred vision when moving.

Russell Sparger did not discover his bilateral vestibular loss was related to his ingestion of the ototoxic antibiotics until July 2008, the suit states.

As a result of the doctors' alleged negligence, Russell Sparger suffered bilateral vestibular loss; suffered physical pain, mental suffering and mental anguish; and has been permanently prevented from attending to his normal activities, the complaint says. In addition, Russell Sparger claims he incurred medical costs.

Judith Sparger has suffered a loss of her husband's consortium, the suit states.

Doctors at the defending hospitals negligently prescribed ototoxic drugs to a person with a renal insufficiency, negligently continued to prescribe ototoxic drugs to Russell Sparger even after he complained of loss of balance and negligently failed to diagnose Russell Sparger's balance problems were related to the ototoxic antibiotics, according to the complaint.

In his four-count suit, Russell Sparger is seeking a judgment of more than $200,000, plus costs.

He will be represented by Joseph A. Bartholomew of Cook, Ysursa, Bartholomew, Brauer and Shevlin in Belleville.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-22.

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