Case Studies

Development of acute renal failure caused by inadequate management of antibiotics


Our client was admitted to hospital with a diagnosis of peritonitis, an inflammation of the stomach lining. Although she initially made a good recovery, she became increasingly ill and subsequently went into septic shock.

She was placed on Gentamicin, an antibiotic which is used in the treatment of life-threatening infections.

The application of Gentamicin has to be carefully monitored as it can cause serious side effects. The most concerning of these, apart from damage to the auditory nerve, consists of nephrotoxicity which occurs as a result of impaired renal function where the build-up of Gentamicin is not expelled from the body.

The weight of the patient is also a factor to consider when prescribing this antibiotic. In this case, our client’s weight had not been factored in when assessing the level and frequency of the administration of Gentamicin after taking into account her impaired renal function.

Our client developed acute renal failure which was in part due to the septic illness. However a material contribution to the overall condition was the failure to assess the build-up of Gentamicin in her body, which in turn resulted in nephrotoxicity and therefore damage to the kidneys.

As a result, our client now suffers ongoing symptoms which can be attributed to renal impairment. In addition there is a risk of renal failure which would not have been the case had her treatment been appropriately managed.

The case was led by John Kyriacou, a partner in the clinical negligence team in London.


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