Congestive heart failure is one of the most common health problems in the United States, impacting approximately 5.7 million people.
Lasix, also known by the generic name furosemide, is a diuretic aimed at preventing the body from absorbing too much salt, instead sending it out of the body through urine.
Lasix is one of the first lines of treatment used to treat edema in those with congestive heart failure, liver disease or certain kidney disorders as well as high blood pressure. 1
But there is a potential problem with the controversial drug, which is often prescribed for those with chronic congestive heart failure. If a patient is suffering from chronic congestive heart failure and is being treated with Lasix, then experiences an acute episode of congestive heart failure, Lasix can be deadly, either if a patient is prescribed it and a doctor fails to make note of it in the case of a health emergency or if a doctor prescribes it to treat the wrong condition.
According to at least one expert, there are better, less dangerous, options for the treatment of congestive heart failure, who asked in an anonymous blog post, “If we use Lasix, are we killers?” 1
The answer to that question? Maybe.
The Risks of Lasix with Malpractice
Lasix works by encouraging the kidneys to release more fluid, and although the drug works to help reduce fluid surrounding the heart, allowing the heart to pump more effectively, there are serious risk factors.
- Lasix can leave a patient so dehydrated that electrolytes become imbalanced enough to become deadly.
- Lasix can elevate blood pressure levels, increasing the symptoms of congestive heart failure.
- Given to a patient suffering with lung conditions such as asthma, pneumonia or a pulmonary embolism (a blockage of the artery leading from the heart to the lung), Lasix could shorten a patient’s lifespan by constricting the blood vessel further, cutting off any flow of blood between the heart to the lungs.
- Lasix constricts blood vessels, which forces the heart to work harder to pump blood. In a patient with acute congestive heart failure, the results can be deadly.
- Lasix reduces potassium to dangerous levels, which is a particularly troublesome problem for those with congestive heart failure because it can trigger dangerous, potentially fatal heart arrhythmias. Another issue associated with potassium is a drug called digoxin, which can reach toxic levels if the body does not have enough potassium to help regulate digoxin levels.
Multiple studies have shown that diuretics have not resulted in the best results for congestive heart failure, and in the wrong dose, can lead to kidney failure, an increased hospital stay, a shortened life span or sudden death.
Is Lasix Causing Health Problems?
There are some potential side effects associated with Lasix, and if you have them, you should notify your doctor immediately.
- Dizziness and fainting
- Extreme thirst and dry mouth
- Nausea and vomiting
- A fast or irregular heartbeat
- Chills or fever
- Chest pain
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing
- Back pain
Kidney problems such as a change in the amount of urine produced can also be a possible side effect of Lasix.
When is Lasix Dangerous?
Chronic congestive heart failure and acute congestive heart failure are not the same and should not be treated as such. While Lasix is a safe medication for chronic congestive heart failure, it can be deadly in cases of acute congestive heart failure because the drug causes vasoconstriction, which cuts off blood flow to the lungs, cutting off oxygen to the rest of the body. Vasoconstriction is the leading cause of death for those with congestive heart failure.
A person taking Lasix will already have heart troubles. A failure to recognize Lasix on a list of medications could cause medical errors that put additional pressure on the heart and lungs, leading to death because both organs are forced to work harder.
When is a Prescription Drug Error Considered Malpractice?
While some prescription drug errors are clear-cut cases of medical malpractice, such as administering the wrong medication or the wrong dose of a medication, prescribing a drug that the patient has previously reported as an allergen or mislabeling a medication, some other drug-related errors are less concrete.
However, prescribing a drug that would interact negatively with other medications, such as prescribing drugs that would interact poorly with Lasix, could also be considered medical malpractice, especially if it resulted in fatal heart and/or lung failure.
Anyone involved in prescribing or administering the medication could be held liable, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, hospitals and potentially, the pharmaceutical manufacturer.
An experienced personal injury attorney can help determine who would be at fault.
If your loved one’s doctor failed to check prescription medications, a move that resulted in heart or lung failure, you may likely have a medical malpractice suit against the physician, hospital or other parties.
Because of prescription drug interactions and other factors, knowing what drugs a patient is taking is a vital part of patient care, and failure to do so is a serious misstep that goes against the doctor’s oath to first do no harm.
Our team can help in handling the complexities of medical malpractice lawsuits and will address your case with compassion as well as determination.
We have trial experience as well as the negotiation skill needed to take on even the toughest insurance companies.
Call our offices today. You won’t pay a fee until we win your case in court.
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