Alton woman claims unnecessary drug led to need for liver transplant

By Steve Gonzalez | May 6, 2008

An Alton woman filed a medical malpractice complaint against Robert Bruce, M.D., and the Madison County Health Department alleging she was treated with an unnecessary drug which led to the need for a liver transplant.

Represented by Thomas Falb of Alton, Sharon Warlick claims in August 2006, she was assessed by Bruce at the health department and was told that she had to be treated with the drug Isoniazid for nine months for a latent tuberculosis infection.

Warlick claims she followed the advice and in May 2007, after following treatment for nine months, suffered symptoms of liver failure requiring treatment at Alton Memorial and then Barnes-Jewish for a liver transplant.

Bruce was the clinical physician and laboratory director at the Madison County Health Department during the time of Warlick's treatment, the complaint states.

According to the suit filed May 2, Bruce and other employees of the health department failed to inform her of the risks and alternative treatment instead of using Isoniazid.

Warlick also claims Bruce and health department employees wrongfully determined that she should be treated with Isoniazid, violated rules, regulations and guidelines of the American Thoracic Society and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention by initiating this type of treatment for latent tuberculosis when it was not indicated, and wrongfully recommended and treated her with Isoniazid when it was not necessary.

She also claims Bruce failed to accurately record her history, failed to monitor her and failed to otherwise assess and treat her in a non-negligent manner.

Isoniazid is used alone or with other drugs to treat tuberculosis (TB) and to prevent it in people who have had contact with tuberculosis bacteria.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Isoniazid may cause severe and sometimes fatal liver damage like hepatitis.

Warlick claims she sustained severe bodily injury requiring multiple hospitalizations and procedures including a liver transplant and multiple stents which caused and will continue to cause pain, suffering, loss of a normal life, medical expenses and lost wages.

She is seeking damages in excess of $50,000.

In his affidavit, Falb stated he was unable to get the required consultation before the expiration of the statute of limitations.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron.

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