American Journal of Law & Medicine

Physician negligence: the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts extends duty to warn patients of side effects of prescriptions to foreseeable third parties - Coombes v. Florio.

Physician Negligence: The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Extends Duty to Warn Patients of Side Effects of Prescriptions to Foreseeable Third Parties--Coombes v. Florio (26)--The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held that a physician's duty to warn a patient of the side effects of any treatment prescribed by the physician extends to everyone foreseeably put at risk by a failure to warn. (27)

The plaintiff in the case was Lyn-Ann Coombes, administratix of the estate of Kevin Coombes ("Coombes"), who was killed in an accident when David Sacca ("Sacca"), a patient of the defendant, Dr. Roland Florio ("Dr. Florio'), struck him. (28) The plaintiff alleges that the accident was a result of side effects caused by medication that Dr. Florio prescribed to Sacca. (29) Dr. Florio had been Sacca's primary care physician since 1999. (30) By the date of the accident, March 22, 2002, Sacca was seventy-five years old and suffered from several serious medical conditions including asbestosis, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, high blood pressure, and metastatic lung cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes. (31) While in the past Dr. Florio had warned Sacca not to drive during his cancer treatments, he advised Sacca in the fall of 2001, when the treatment ended, that it would be safe for him to drive again. (32) Potential side effects of the combination of drugs that Dr. Florio had prescribed to Mr. Sacca at the time of the accident included "drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, altered consciousness, and sedation. …

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