Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, is a medical condition in which liquids from the stomach reflux into the esophagus causing inflammation and damage to the lining of the esophagus. The liquids regurgitated by the stomach may contain: acid, pepsin, and bile. Acid reflux is considered a chronic medical condition. In many cases once treatment for the condition has begun it must be continued on a permanent basis. This is especially true if the individual experiencing the condition is diagnosed with esophagitis as this condition is also considered chronic in nature. It is reported that acid reflux is experienced by more than 50 percent of individuals, and a great number of these individuals have sought medical intervention to assist with their condition. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are medications that have regularly been prescribed to treat acid reflux disease, but doctors now believe that PPIs may have unexpected health consequences. When a medication prescribed by a licensed physician causes unanticipated health problems in an individual medical malpractice may have occurred.
Doctors often prescribe what they believe to be “safe” medications to their patients only to discover that the medication has serious side effects and adverse health consequences after the fact. Unfortunately, the health of many individuals has to be negatively impacted before doctors will take a serious look at the consequences of some medications.
It has been suggested that PPIs used in the treatment of acid reflux disease may be associated with the following side effects: an increased frequency in hip fractures, altered calcium absorption, and an increased chance of acquiring or contracting nosocomial Clostridium difficile–associated diarrhea or pneumonia. Medical malpractice arises when licensed healthcare providers fail to treat patients according to accepted standards of care and the patient is injured as a result. Individuals that have been injured as a result of taking prescribed PPIs for acid reflux disease may have legal grounds to file a medical malpractice claim.
Researchers have found that acid may not be the only contributing factor to reflux disease and that the tissue damage experienced by some individuals may be related to other factors. Since PPIs have traditionally been used to prevent the release of stomach acid, PPIs may not be an effective treatment for some cases of reflux disease. Licensed physicians are expected to be aware of the underlying causes of diseases and know how to properly treat those diseases with appropriate medications. If the medications prescribed to treat certain diseases have the potential of creating adverse side effects, doctors have a duty to warn their patients of these possible side effects. When doctors fail to provide these basic services to their patients, the doctor may be held accountable in a court of law for medical malpractice. Individuals that are victims of medical malpractice may be eligible for financial remuneration for their injuries.