Every year hundreds of thousands of patients across the United States undergo MRI–magnetic resonance imaging–for a wide array of medical problems. MRIs with and without contrast are a noninvasive procedure routinely utilized in the healthcare field to provide a better understanding of various pathology and soft tissue within the body. Doctors order MRIs for everything from torn ligaments of the knee to the most life-threatening illnesses such as Alzheimer's and cancer. No matter why the scan is ordered, most will be conducted using a contrast agent. Contrast agents help radiologists better visualize the area of concern and report back clearer findings to the physician.
Under normal circumstances, contrast is eliminated via urination in a matter of hours post-scan. Radiologists may advise patients to drink plenty of water to more quickly eliminate the contrast agent. Unless the patient has a known shellfish allergy (iodine, the cause of shellfish allergies, is used in many contrast agents) there should be no complications from the injected dye during or after the scan. In fact, the most uncomfortable part of receiving the contrast agent is the brief needle stick required to administer the drug before the MRI begins.
This Shaked Law Blog article will explain what readers need to know if they or a loved one have suffered the toxic effects of Gadolinium (barium-sulfate) after undergoing an MRI which used a contrast agent. It's important that this information is disseminated to the masses in hopes of stopping the use of Gadolinium completely. Currently, Gadolinium Deposition Disease is the subject of hundreds of lawsuits around the country, and more are sure to come to light in the coming months.
Gadolinium Deposition Disease
Unfortunately in recent years, the standard MRI-with-contrast procedure has taken a toxic turn for the worst. While patients already worry about the results of the test they're undergoing, now they have an added fear: barium-sulfate toxicity; also known as Gadolinium Toxicity. This poisonous substance has been reported to have caused extreme pain (burning, tingling, and deep bone pain are the most frequently reported) as well as skin lesions, balance problems, hair loss, and an array of cognitive symptoms. These symptoms were not only uncomfortable, but prolonged to the point of causing organ damage in patients who suffered the toxicity from Gadolinium after a routine MRI exam.
Gadolinium Deposition Disease has lead to more than just "drug side effects". Thousands of patients who were given the drug promised to be safe suffered organ failure as a result of a single dose of the poisonous substance, while drugmaker GE Healthcare kept silent for years, knowing that the drug they were producing had the potential for this level of harm.
Gadolinium's harmful effects known by GE included but were not limited to:
- Organ failure due to Gadolinium buildup in bodily tissues; not being excreted via urination as most contrast agents are expected to
- Nerve damage
- Skin Lesions
- Total or partial hair loss due to the buildup of barium-sulfate in the body
- Severe stomach cramping, intestinal distress
The FDA, federal judges step in
As recently as May of 2018, the FDA stated:
"The FDA issued a Drug Safety Communication warning that Gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) are in fact retained in the body. As part of the warning, new class warnings are required."
This warning comes on the heels of a decision made by federal judges allowing the drugmakers (GE Healthcare) who manufacture the deadly contrast agent to be sued in the class action arena for the detrimental side effects of their product. However, lawsuits against GE Healthcare date as far back as 2010, when federal law allowed for punitive damages to distributed to a class of claimants who suffered side effects after routine MRI scans that utilized the GE-manufactured Gadolinium.
Excessive suffering leads to well deserved compensation, justice
For those uninitiated, let's take a look at what, exactly punitive damages cover in regards to a Personal Injury Class Action lawsuit.
The dictionary defines Punitive Damages as follows:
"Punitive damages are awarded in addition to actual damages in certain circumstances. Punitive damages are considered punishment and are typically awarded at the court's discretion when the defendant's behavior is found to be especially harmful."
So, in the case of a lawsuit filed against a drugmaker who manufactured a drug while withholding its known side effects that caused harm to patients to the extent that a Class Action lawsuit was filed against them, punitive damages would be awarded to the victims. This would helpfully imply that GE Healthcare was exceptionally harmful and acted beyond the legal definition of "unreasonable", and federal law allowed for the Class to be awarded damages beyond what normally would be awarded after a single instance of accident or injury.
There is no dollar amount that eases the pain and suffering of those who have been dealt the harmful effects of Gadolinium; nor can a dollar amount replace loved ones who passed away as a result of organ failure caused by this sinister substance. However, Class Action filings are ongoing and victims as well as surviving family members must retain legal counsel to fight aggressively on their behalf. Those affected should not remain silent and allow drugmakers to continue producing drugs they are well aware will cause harm or fatalities simply to make a profit.
Learn more about the harmful effects of Gadolinium by visiting our Class Action website at classactionlawsuit.legal