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Charlotte County, FL

This wrongful death action arose when the 62-year-old decedent died in her home from a cardiac arrest caused by a severe allergic reaction to the antibiotic, Vancomycin. The defendant in the case was the home health company which provided the nurse who administered Vancomycin intravenously. The plaintiff claimed that the nurse was negligent in failing to have an anaphalaxis kit available to control the decedent’s allergic reaction when it occurred. The defendant maintained that such kit must be ordered by a physician, and was not an option available for the nurse. The defense also contended that the decedent had received IV Vancomycin on numerous prior occasions and there was no reason to suspect that she might have an allergic reaction to the antibiotic.

The decedent suffered crush injuries to her leg in a golf cart accident years before the time in question. She suffered from recurring leg infections, for which she received intravenous antibiotics at home.

Her treating doctor, who was not a party to the litigation, ordered Vancomycin, which was administered by the defendant’s nurse. Evidence showed that the decedent had received the Vancomycin on prior occasions without incident. However, on the day in question, the decedent suffered a severe allergic reaction to the antibiotic.

The plaintiff argued that the defendant’s nurse was not able to adequately respond to the emergency, because she did not have an anaphalaxis kit available, such as EpiPen, which typically contain epinephrine or adrenaline. The plaintiff’s expert testified that all nurses should have an anaphalaxis kit available at all times. The plaintiff’s expert also testified that immediate emergency treatment with said kit would have prevented the cardiac arrest, which led to the decedent’s death.

The defendant argued that an anaphalaxis kit must be ordered by the treating physician, and was not ordered in this case. If an allergic reaction was suspected, the physician would not have ordered an anaphalaxis kit for home use, but would have instructed the decedent to have the antibiotic treatment in his office or a hospital, according to the defense.

The non-party physician, who ordered the Vancomycin testified that he had no reason to suspect that the decedent would have an allergic reaction, in light of the fact that she had been given the antibiotic many times before with no reaction.

The defendant’s infectious disease expert testified that it is not the standard of care for a nurse to carry an anaphalaxis kit. The defendant’s nurse was not a party to the action and did not testify due to health reasons.The jury found no negligence on the part of the defendant, which was a legal cause of injury to the plaintiff. The case is currently on appeal.

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