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Ototoxicity in deafness claims

8 April 2016
The clinical negligence case of X v BARTS HEALTH NHS TRUST (2015), in which a claimant was awarded damages of £65,000 after an incorrect dosage of Gentamicin resulted in irreversible ototoxicity and significant loss of vestibular function (as well as acceleration of other conditions) is a timely reminder to noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) handlers on the potentially ototoxic effect of the use of some drugs prescribed to address medical issues.

Gentamicin itself, sold under different brand names, is prescribed in conditions such as meningitis, tuberculosis, pneumonia, endocarditis etc., amongst other conditions and can cause inner ear problems including hearing loss, tinnitus and balance problems, which may be permanent.

A detailed consideration of a claimant’s medical history and medical records is desirable in appropriate NIHL cases, to determine the potential ototoxic effect on a claimant’s hearing of prescribed drugs and offers a defence to the claim.

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