A Santa Cruz-area physician was recently sued by a patient for medical malpractice.
Dr. Sharon Jamieson, MD of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation was sued by a patient who alleges that Dr. Jamieson failed to warn her of serious side effects of a medication she prescribed. The patient fell into a coma and was left nearly blind.
Patient Kathleen Hardin saw Dr. Jamieson from 2002 until the summer of 2011. According to court documents, Hardin was prescribed a new medication, Lamictal, in 2010, and Hardin claims that Dr. Jamieson failed to discuss any of the side effects associated with this drug.
Hardin obtained the generic form of Lamictal (called Lamotrigine) from a Santa Cruz Safeway pharmacy. She began taking the medication on April 2, 2010, and had to be rushed to the hospital on April 21, 2010 after she began feeling ill.
Doctors at Dominican Hospital diagnosed Hardin with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), a serious drug reaction which can result in “burn-like rashes” caused by the skin separating from itself.
Hardin fell into a coma for about two months as her SJS progressed into Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis and caused organ failure. When Hardin was discharged from the hospital on July 16, 2010, she still had open wounds and was “virtually blind,” being only able to sense light and dark.
Lawsuits were filed by Hardin and her husband against Dr. Jamieson, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (Jamieson’s employer) and Safeway pharmacy. Hardin sued Dr. Jamieson and her medical practice for prescribing the medication without proper warning and Hardin sued Safeway for giving her a print out which excluded the FDA’s “boxed warnings” about the SJS and TENs risks associated with her medication.
Ultimately Hardin’s case was thrown out because she did not file it within the one year statute of limitations period for medical malpractice.
The time period begins when a person has enough facts to “suspect someone did something wrong to them,” which the court noted began with Hardin woke up from her coma.
“When a reasonable person awakens from a coma and learns that a medication caused her condition, one would expect her to inquire whether the side effects of the medication were common or previously known,” the court wrote.
Hardin woke up from her coma in April of 2010, but failed to file her lawsuit until October 18, 201, which is why the trial and appeals courts dismissed her claims.