Health Care

VA gave patient drug he was allergic to and he died with ‘pustular lesions’ on his face, according to suit

A lawsuit filed on behalf of John Beemer’s sons says that Beemer developed “pustular lesions” and died after the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Kansas City treated him with a drug he was allergic to.
A lawsuit filed on behalf of John Beemer’s sons says that Beemer developed “pustular lesions” and died after the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Kansas City treated him with a drug he was allergic to.

An 84-year-old patient developed pustular lesions on his face and died after a Veterans Affairs hospital in Kansas City treated him with a drug he was allergic to, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

The suit filed in federal court by Kansas City lawyer Leland Dempsey alleges that staff at the VA Medical Center on Linwood Boulevard caused John Beemer’s death last year by giving him Ceftriaxone, and the death could easily have been prevented.

“Their own records said he was allergic,” Dempsey said in a phone interview Thursday.

According to the lawsuit, Beemer’s allergy to cephalosporin medications, including Ceftriaxone, appeared in his VA medical records as far back as 2008. Yet the hospital still administered the drug last year to the William Chrisman High School graduate and U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Korean War.

Dwayne Rider, a spokesman for the VA hospital, said he could not comment on pending litigation, but would pass the Star’s request to legal staff.

Beemer went to the hospital April 6, 2016, suffering from shortness of breath and fatigue and was diagnosed with pneumonia.

Hospital staff administered Ceftriaxone, an antibiotic, and discharged him the same day, according to the suit. Two days later he came back to the hospital complaining of a “drug rash” and was admitted. He received more Ceftriaxone over the next two days and his condition worsened.

“By April 11, 2016, Mr. Beemer’s drug rash progressed to pustular lesions that covered his face,” the suit says.

The suit calls the lesions a “classic symptom” of Steven-Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, skin conditions associated with allergic reactions to cephalosporin medications.

But the hospital didn’t diagnosis those conditions and instead continued treating Beemer for pneumonia until April 26, when he was discharged into hospice care. He died three days later.

The suit was filed on behalf of Beemer’s sons, Craig Beemer of Grain Valley, and Mark Beemer of Kansas City. It does not seek any specific amount of compensation.

Andy Marso: 816-234-4055, @andymarso

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