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Patients Must Be Their Own Advocates

Steven E. North, Esq. and Laurence M. Deutsch, Esq.


Commonly prescribed medications known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may increase the risk of heart attack within a week the first dose, according to a recent study reported in The New York Times. The offending category of common drugs includes Celebrex, Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Vioxx and Voltaren among others. In fact one of the drugs, Vioxx, was taken off the market because of its cardiovascular risks.

The large-scale study involved more than half a million people among whom more than 10% did, in fact, suffer heart attacks. It is clinically important for patients to know and understand the implications associated with taking these drugs, the risks of which increase with higher doses and longer duration.

Although healthcare providers bear responsibility for advising patients about the implications of medications being subscribed, a concomitant responsibility rests with patients to inquire if an explanation is not forthcoming.

Knowing about the heart attack risk attached to some medications not only helps patients decide whether or not they want to take the medication but also puts them on the alert for potential early signs of a reaction that might otherwise go unnoted and escalate.

Should a heart attack occur that may have been triggered by an NSAID, it would be very difficult to prosecute a medical malpractice case based on whether or not the risks and benefits were verbally articulated to the client. In such claims it is invariably alleged that the respective positions are “contrived memory” presented to enhance the respective position of the plaintiff or defendant.

Consequently unless there is documentary evidence by way of medical records, writings or recorded phone messages dealing directly with the issue, most lawyers will not prosecute a medical malpractice case solely based on a “he said, she said” hypothesis.

Source, The New York Times, “Pain Relievers and Heart Risks, May 16, 2017, Page D4