ICU Drug to Treat Sepsis May Put Some Patients at Risk

Science Now reported that a drug used in intensive care units (ICU) may be harmful to some patients. Hydroxyethyl starch (HES), an anti-shock drug, may be given to patients who are septic. 

A study funded by the Danish Research Council and appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in June of this year found, “Patients with severe sepsis assigned to fluid resuscitation with HES 130/0.42 had an increased risk of death at day 90 and were more likely to require renal-replacement therapy, as compared with those receiving Ringer’s acetate.” 

Another study, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and appearing in October in the NEJM, found, “In patients in the ICU, there was no significant difference in 90-day mortality between patients resuscitated with 6% HES (130/0.4) or saline. However, more patients who received resuscitation with HES were treated with renal replacement therapy.” 

Perhaps even more alarming is that this risk was first seen in a study conducted in 2001. Yet regulatory agencies didn’t appear to support the findings or find cause for concern. But despite these studies, there are still arguments against the findings. Some argue that other critical factors weren’t included in the studies, which could have changed the results. 

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are risks with any type of intravenous fluid put into a patient. One reason is because our bodies are designed to take in fluids through the gastrointestinal tract. As a result, patients can develop allergic reactions and other problems. Additionally, some patients, because of their specific medical conditions, have a higher chance of developing complications. 

An example would be a patient with a severe head injury. Giving him or her HES could result in it leaking, which could lead to cerebral edema. Some have also argued that patients who have an increased risk of kidney failure should not be given HES. 

The studies have raised concerns among some professionals regarding patients who may have a higher risk of being harmed by HES. If you believe you have been harmed by a dangerous drug or product, and negligence is responsible for your injuries, contact New York dangerous drug lawyers from Gacovino, Lake & Associates at 1-800-246-HURT (4878). 

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