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What You Need to Know About Stevens-Johnson Syndrome


Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is a severe skin condition that occurs as a result of being prescribed improper medication, usually caused by hospital errors. Those who experience this terrible allergic reaction will develop a skin rash that appears to be red and purple in color, which is also known as erythema multiforme. Internally, SJS can spread to the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory system as well as the mucous membranes of the eyes, throat, nose, or genitals. In severe cases, SJS can cause death, the risk of which ranges from 10% to 30%, depending on how severe the rash is.

Generally, the rash that is associated with SJS will appear within the first 8 weeks of treatment. However, it is preventable. Medical professionals must monitor a patient’s medications and check for rashes or other symptoms to prevent the onset of its progression.

Some of the medications that are commonly responsible for triggering this potentially fatal allergic reaction include:

  • Anti-gout medications
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) 
  • Penicillin and drugs within the Penicillin family that are used to treat infections
  • Anticonvulsant drugs that are used to treat seizures, such as Phenytoin, Valproic Acid, and Barbiturates
  • Modafinil, which is used to treat sleep disorders such as narcolepsy
  • Mirtazapine, which is a noradrenergic and serotonergic antidepressant (NaSSA) that is used to treat mood disorders

Early indications of SJS include:

  • Sores that look like targets
  • Painful mouth sores that make swallowing and breathing difficult
  • Blisters anywhere on your skin, eyes, or genitals
  • Skin that appears sunburnt once the top layer peels off

Diagnosing and Treating SJS

As soon as you notice any of the above signs or symptoms, see a medical professional immediately and inform him or her of any medications you have taken recently. To confirm a diagnosis of SJS, a sample of your skin will be taken and sent in for tests.

To treat SJS and to prevent worsening symptoms, hospitalization might be required and you will no longer take the medication that triggered the allergic reaction. Additionally, treatment for this painful condition can include:

  • Various medications, including antacids for internal sores, antibiotics to treat or prevent infection, blood thinners to prevent blood clotting, and pressors to increase your blood pressure to a normal rate that protects your organs.
  • Hydroptherapy might be used to clean your wounds and to remove dead tissue from your skin.
  • For those whose skin is unable to properly heal, surgery might be necessary to clean and remove dirt or dead tissues. A skin graft might also be performed to cover and help heal the areas where skin was lost.

The most common complication associated with SJS is infection, so make sure you contact a healthcare provider immediately. Early detection is vital to preventing a dangerous infection, such as sepsis, which could spread throughout the body’s tissue and organs, ultimately resulting in death.

Medical Malpractice Attorney in Miami

At the Law Offices of David C. Rash, our Miami medical malpractice attorneys have more than 20 years of proven legal experience and have successfully recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our injured clients. If you developed SJS, a painful allergic reaction to improper medication, it might have been caused by a hospital error. Let us fight for the compensation that you deserve and need to recover and get back on your feet.

Get started on your case and get in touch with a fierce legal advocate today by contacting us at (954) 914-7116 to request a complimentary consultation.

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