Commonly Used Heartburn Medicines Found to Increase Risk of Death in Hospital Patients

A study recently released by the University of Michigan has found that the inpatient use of drugs classified as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to prevent gastrointestinal bleeding increases the risk of infection and death in patients treated with the medications. The drugs, which are usually used to treat heartburn by reducing stomach acid, are also commonly prescribed to patients in the hospital to treat and prevent abdominal bleeding in at-risk patients. According to a news source reporting on the study, the use of PPIs may still be appropriate for some patients if the benefits outweigh the risks, but there is a consistently elevated risk of infection in patients who are treated with PPIs, which should be considered when they are prescribed.

What are PPIs and How Do They Increase the Risk of Infection?

pills-1422509Proton pump inhibitor drugs are drugs that slow down the production of acid in the upper stomach and are used to treat chronic heartburn and acid reflux disease. Commonly used name-brand PPI drugs sold in the United States include Prilosec, Zantac, and Prevacid, among others. PPIs are also prescribed to patients in hospitals who are at risk of gastrointestinal bleeding due to an injury, surgery, or interaction with another drug.

While the recent study’s findings cannot be fully explained, it is clear that some mechanism of the PPI drugs reduces the body’s ability to fight certain infections. The study found that 90% of patients who were first prescribed a PPI upon arriving at a hospital had an increased chance of death from infection. With these startling results, doctors and hospitals should be cautious to only prescribe PPIs when the benefits outweigh the increased risk of serious injury or death.

Medical Providers’ Responsibility for the Unintended Consequences of the Medicines they Prescribe

Doctors and hospitals have a legal responsibility to provide patients with care that meets a professional medical standard. This standard includes the responsibility of doctors to avoid treatments that put the patient at an undue risk for negative side effects when compared to the benefits of the treatment, as well as a responsibility to get a patient’s informed consent to the care that is being provided. If a doctor makes a substandard decision to treat a patient with a medication that results in infection or death, or fails to get a patient’s informed consent for a potentially risky treatment, they may be liable for medical malpractice and owe damages to the injured party.

Are You a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you or someone you love has suffered an infection or death after receiving treatment with PPIs in a hospital environment, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced Maryland and Washington, D.C. medical malpractice attorneys at Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt have decades of experience handling difficult malpractice cases, and we aren’t afraid to fight for the compensation our clients deserve. We represent victims of medical malpractice in the Mid-Atlantic region and nationwide. Contact the qualified Maryland and Washington, D.C. malpractice attorneys at Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt today. Call us at (410) 567-0800 or contact us through our website to schedule a risk-free consultation.

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