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Chemotherapy Overdose and Filing a Cancer Malpractice Claim: Everything You Need to Know


Chemotherapy is somewhat unique in the medical world in the sense that it is a kind of poison that damages cells in the human body; of course, this is the whole point when Florida healthcare providers implement chemo in connection with treating cancer. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL, explain that chemotherapy is effective in killing cancerous cells, either with other therapy or alone.

While chemotherapy is one of the most common forms of cancer care, it is essential to realize that the medications introduced into your body are intentionally toxins. Though these chemicals are meant to destroy cancerous cells, they can affect other organs and tissues.

Typically, chemo aims for a cure, but when the cancer is too advanced, it’s used to extend life or alleviate symptoms. The form of chemotherapy varies, including options like injections, pills, creams, intravenous methods, or liquids, and its administration can be daily, weekly, or monthly.

Chemotherapy comes with plenty of side effects, some of which can carry significant health complications. Certain side effects to expect, according to, include:

  • Fatigue;
  • Hair loss;
  • Infection;
  • Nerve problems, such as numbness and tingling;
  • Urine, bladder, and kidney issues;
  • Fertility problems; and,
  • Many others.

The risks associated with medical errors and chemotherapy malpractice in cancer treatments are exceptionally high. Patients, already vulnerable and with compromised immune systems, face severe dangers from errors such as receiving too much chemotherapy. These mistakes not only pose a threat of death or lasting harm but also squander precious time that could be better spent on appropriate treatment.

What Are the Symptoms of Chemo Overdose in Cancer Treatments?

Because harsh side effects are an expected consequence of chemotherapy, it can be difficult to tell whether the implications are expected – or whether they are the result of preventable chemo overdose.

There is a point where the effects of too much chemotherapy lead to more than discomfort and minor pain – potentially leading to severe medical conditions. Under such circumstances, you may have experienced a chemo overdose through your physician’s error.

Watch for Symptoms of Chemo Toxicity in Cancer Care

Because chemotherapy introduces concentrated, powerful substances into the human body to fight cancerous cells, there will be side effects. As we said, it is common for a patient to experience nausea, fatigue, easy bruising, diarrhea, hair loss, and many other implications.

However, it is cause for concern if you experience specific side effects that indicate chemo overdose as part of chemotherapy malpractice.

When there are mistakes with the dosage, type of drug, or other factors, you may:

  • Notice an abnormally slow heart or breathing rate
  • Suffer a heart attack
  • Experience a seizure
  • Fall into a coma
  • Have extreme, unbearable, or intense pain
  • Go through significant changes in urination
  • Experience unexplained bleeding
  • Have significant diarrhea or vomiting
  • Develop a high fever

Signs that Chemo Is Killing You Instead of Making You Better

Any chemotherapy side effects mentioned above can be a concern, but they are usually normal. Still, you could be experiencing chemo overdose if you note any of the following symptoms:

  • Extremely slow heart rate;
  • Acute myocardial infarction, i.e., heart attack;
  • Seizures;
  • Changes or pain in urination;
  • Unusually slow breathing rate;
  • Coma;
  • Agonizing pain;
  • Severe diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, etc;
  • High fever; or,
  • Excessive bleeding.

Getting immediate medical attention at an urgent care center or emergency room is crucial if you suffer from any of these symptoms. There are various forms of treatment to counter the effects, including an antidote for chemo overdose.

What to Do About a Chemo Overdose

Some of the side effects of chemotherapy overdose are similar to what a patient goes through when chemo is administered correctly. When the symptoms are extreme, you should seek medical treatment immediately.

Do not wait to schedule an appointment; visit the ER or an urgent care center, as these facilities may be able to provide an antidote. Currently, there is one medication approved by the FDA for the treatment of chemo overdose: Uridine triacetate, brand name Vistogard.

Once your health is stabilized after experiencing a chemo overdose, you should get in touch with an attorney to discuss your chemotherapy overdose case and legal options.

Filing a Florida Chemotherapy Overdose Lawsuit

To establish a valid Florida medical malpractice case related to your chemotherapy overdose, it’s essential to demonstrate that the healthcare provider’s actions caused you harm. This can be challenging in cancer treatment scenarios, as chemotherapy and radiation inherently have harmful effects on the body.

Moreover, a negative outcome doesn’t automatically imply malpractice. Chemotherapy may not always be effective, particularly in late-stage cancer diagnoses. Chemotherapy malpractice claims hinge on a departure from the accepted standard of care, the expected diagnostic and treatment approach a competent healthcare provider would use based on the patient’s symptoms.

You may have a Florida cancer chemo malpractice claim against a negligent doctor if you can prove that another physician would not have made such errors in administering chemotherapy. A Florida cancer malpractice lawyer can describe them in more detail when they file your case.

How to Prove a Malpractice Claim after a Chemo Overdose Injury in Your Cancer Treatment

Once you receive treatment and your health is under control, you may want to consider your legal options for chemotherapy overdose. You may not yet realize how this type of cancer malpractice can affect your life, but you will sustain physical, emotional, and financial losses.

The key is being able to prove the elements of a medical malpractice claim under Florida law, which are:

  • The existence of a patient-physician relationship;
  • The relevant standard of care, which refers to what a hypothetical oncologist would have done in administering chemotherapy for your cancer;
  • A departure from this standard, where your physician did NOT provide care following the hypothetical doctor’s approach;
  • A link between your doctor’s breach of care and the chemo overdose that caused you harm.

Your Florida medical malpractice lawyer or hospital negligence attorney can assist with gathering evidence and developing a legal strategy around these essential elements.

Other examples of potential grounds for a chemotherapy malpractice claim in cancer treatment include:

  • You needed uridine triacetate (Vistogard) following an overdose.
  • Incorrect chemotherapy dosage due to a malfunctioning pump used during your intra-arterial chemo treatment.
  • Administration of the wrong chemotherapy medication.
  • The doctor’s or hospital’s neglect in monitoring your condition post-cancer treatment.
  • The doctor’s or hospital’s failure to adequately inform you about the risks and benefits of a specific cancer treatment.

Establishing Liability in a Chemotherapy Malpractice Claim

Figuring out who is liable for your damages in a chemotherapy overdose can be complex. The liable party might be the doctor, the pharmacy, the cancer treatment facility, or the nurse who gave you the medication. Sometimes, the drug manufacturer might also be at fault. Carrying out a detailed investigation is crucial for building your case effectively.

An expert doctor specialized in treating your specific type of cancer is required to review your medical records to ascertain whether the treatment you received diverged from the accepted standard of care for your condition. Freidin Brown, P.A. collaborates with a broad network of medical experts and expert witnesses available to support your chemotherapy malpractice case.

What Compensation Can You Claim in a Florida Chemotherapy Overdose Case?

You may recover the medical costs to treat your chemotherapy injuries, lost wages, and other monetary damages in a successful claim. Chemotherapy toxicity victims usually seek financial compensation for the harm caused by a mistake in their cancer treatment. This can include various types of damages, such as:

  1. Medical costs incurred due to the malpractice.
  2. Future medical care imposed by malpractice.
  3. Income lost because of malpractice.
  4. Potential loss of future earnings.
  5. Pain and suffering.
  6. Emotional distress.
  7. Diminished quality of life.
  8. Loss of consortium – the impact on the family’s relationship with the victim of malpractice.

Punitive damages are only awarded in instances of particularly egregious behavior. These are meant to penalize the defendant and prevent similar misconduct in the future.

What You Need to Know about a Malpractice Claim in a Chemo Overdose Wrongful Death Case

When a person passes away due to malpractice in cancer treatment related to a chemo overdose, it’s classified as a wrongful death. In such cases, the damages claimed include those previously mentioned and cover funeral and burial expenses.

The legal action is initiated by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate, acting for the benefit of the surviving spouse, children, or other heirs. While the thought of initiating a lawsuit for a chemotherapy overdose might seem daunting during such a challenging time, it could be one of the most significant actions you undertake.

Our Florida Cancer Malpractice Lawyers Can Advise You

At Freidin Brown, P.A., our team is well-versed in Florida medical malpractice laws, including those covering chemo overdose claims. If you have concerns about whether you or a loved one suffered chemo overdose instead of the typical side effects of treatment, please contact our Miami cancer malpractice lawyers right away.

Healthcare provider negligence could be behind improper administration of these medications, so you may qualify to recover compensation through a medical malpractice action. Once we review your circumstances, we can describe the legal process for cancer malpractice cases. We can explain more during a free consultation in our offices.

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