Recent studies are showing that proton pump inhibitors or drugs that are used to treat acid reflux disease in hospitals could increase a patient’s risk of contracting serious infections which, in addition to extending their hospital stay, could also heighten their risk of dying there. According to reports, about half of all patients entering a U.S. hospital are prescribed an acid-reducing drug called a proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Some of the common and familiar brand names include Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid and Protonix. The risks and injuries associated with the use of heartburn medications have led to numerous heartburn medication lawsuits.
Why Are Heartburn Medications Dangerous?
Roughly one in every five patients receives a new PPI at the hospital. Doctors routinely prescribe PPIs in the hospital to prevent heartburn or bleeding in a patient’s stomach or gut, what is also generally referred to as gastrointestinal or GI bleeding, a serious concern for many who are hospitalized given the stress of health conditions and undergoing surgery or other medical procedures. However, research has found that these medications heighten the patient’s risk of suffering a serious or even a fatal infection during his or her hospital stay.
Researchers who studied this issue concluded that for a majority of hospitalized patients who don’t have gastrointestinal bleeding and who aren’t in intensive care, the potential harms of prescribing PPIs outweigh the benefits. Therefore, their use should be discouraged in hospital settings, unless the patient absolutely needs the drugs.
Risks Outweigh the Benefits
Experts say the same ability that PPIs have to suppress acid reproduction also creates conditions that are ripe for potentially harmful bacteria to grow and thrive, such as pneumonia or Clostridium difficile, a bacterium responsible for hospital-acquired infections. There are about 35 million hospitalizations in the U.S. each year. So, even if a small percentage of those who receive PPIs in a hospital setting contract a serious bacterial infection, it means that there could be thousands of unnecessary deaths.
Experts also observe that since these drugs are very effective in reducing heartburn, peptic ulcers and bleeding, they have been overprescribed in outpatient as well as in hospital settings. Long-term use of these drugs also has serious side effects including low-bone density, vitamin B12 deficiency, gastrointestinal infections, higher risk of chronic kidney disease, certain types of cancer and even dementia.
Contact a Heartburn Medication Lawyer
If you or someone you know has developed any of these conditions after being prescribed a PPI in a hospital setting, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost income and pain and suffering, among other losses. Our firm is working with experienced heartburn medication lawyers, who are investigating these cases. They may be able to file a heartburn medication lawsuit for you, and they charge no fee unless you win an award or settlement. For a free (no obligation) case evaluation, call our toll free number at 1-800-992-6878 or fill out a contact form online.