Debbie T’s Story

Female 1I had Kaiser-Permanente when I lived in Vancouver, WA 7/2005-9/2010. I was having chronic sinus infections and was being prescribed Avelox all the time. Finally, an ENT surgeon decided to fix my deviated septum and correct a sinus cavity that wasn’t draining properly. I was put on a 2-week dose of Avelox commencing 3 days before surgery. This was in June. In August, I awoke one morning with excruciating pain in my right shoulder; I literally could not lift or use my right arm. My primary care physician said I “slept on it wrong” and told me to ice it and take naproxyn (but I was already at maximum dosage for degenerative disk disease/osteoarthritis) so I took tylenol. Days later and no improvement so he sent me to physical therapy where they tried to make me use my arm but the burning pain brought me to tears. Finally, they sent me to an orthopedist who said I had a ruptured tendon and/or torn rotator cuff (no x-rays, CT, or MRI ever done). He gave me a shot of cortisone and the shoulder improved gradually from that day on. I was still prescribed Avelox a couple more times after that but I finally discovered the letter in my prescription and called my ENT, so she changed my prescription. Every doctor in Kaiser has everyone’s medical records available at the computer terminal in every examining room so they all KNEW I’d had a cortisone injection and she still prescribed Avelox? Anyway, there are long-term effects from that drug and I am living proof. All of the above took place in 2008. In 2011, my left shoulder started hurting just like my right shoulder had but this time I had Blue Cross. I told my doctor about what happened before so he sent me for an MRI and I had a torn rotator cuff again. Another cortisone shot but this time, I talked to the orthopedist about Avelox. He had a smug look on his face and, in a very condescending voice, told me that fluoroquinolones are the “drug of choice” and their benefits outweigh their risks. He said they are the FIRST choice, not the last. Then, in September 2011, I had to have my gall bladder removed due to gall stones. They hooked up an IV. When they started to add a small bag of something else, I asked what it was and they told me it was Levaquin…so I refused it and I explained my situation with Avelox and included that my mother had the same problems after taking Levaquin. She called the doctor, who was in another surgery, but only told him about my mom and levaquin – nothing about me and avelox. She came back and told me he would cancel the surgery if I didn’t accept the levaquin…I was being coerced into accepting a drug I knew would harm me. I would have been charged for the OR time, equipment, and materials even without the surgery. I agreed under protest. Thankfully, my surgeon had a med student shadowing him and she heard everything. She excused herself from my bedside, went and talked to my doctor, he came to my bedside and asked me why I refused the Levaquin. When he heard the WHOLE STORY, he immediately stopped the drug and switched to clindamycin. Unfortunately, about 1/3 of the dosage had already made it into my blood stream. A few months later, I woke up with a very painful left shoulder…AGAIN. I have never found an attorney who would take my case, for one reason or another (Avelox was originally prescribed by Kaiser in State of Washington but I now live in Oregon; plus, I can’t find anyone willing to testify that fluoroquinolones caused my tendinitis, torn rotator cuffs, and ruptured tendons).