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Tobramycin: Powerful drug with serious side effects

Tobramycin is a powerful antibiotic useful in many medical cases. Often used in patients with cystic fibrosis, this antibiotic is only appropriate in specific circumstances. Physicians must carefully consider all options when a patient needs antibiotics because there are benefits and risks to each.

In the case of tobramycin, the risks of the drug often mean that it isn't appropriate for many patients. When the drug is prescribed, doctors must take proper steps to monitor the patient because potential adverse effects are so serious.

Recently, a victim of tobramycin malpractice was awarded $9 million for her injuries and suffering.

Purpose of tobramycin

There are several reasons why a physician might prescribe this drug. One of the more common is for patients who suffer from cystic fibrosis and have a bacterial infection. It is also used for other types of bacterial infections, such as severe recurrent urinary tract infections, but there might be other antibiotics more appropriate for those types of infections.

Tobramycin and pregnancy

You can't use tobramycin if you are pregnant. You must take an effective birth control if you are a female of childbearing age. It isn't known how or if this drug would impact a breastfed baby, so it is best to avoid it while breastfeeding a baby.

Risk factors

People who have had an organ transplant, Parkinson's disease, kidney disease, a neuromuscular condition or myathenia gravis shouldn't take this drug. You should let your doctor know if you have breathing problems, hearing difficulties or dizzy spells.

Proper directions

Doctors and pharmacists need to ensure that the dosing for this drug is appropriate. It isn't recommended for patients who are under 6 years old. Typically, the drug is taken two times per day in cycles of 28 days on the drug and 28 days off.

Black box warning

This drug does come with a black box warning. Included in the warning is ototoxicity and neurotoxicity, both of which can cause irreversible damage to the patient's ears and neurological system. Another warning is for nephrotoxicity, which can lead to irreversible kidney damage. The third warning is for neuromuscular blockade, which can lead to respiratory paralysis.

Monitoring is essential

Physicians need to do blood work, hearing tests and other monitoring on patients who take this drug. Failing to properly monitor a patient can mean that problems caused by the drug aren't handled properly. This could lead to permanent hearing loss, kidney damage and other very serious impacts that could have been prevented if the patient was properly monitored. As you can imagine, these issues can impact the patient's entire life.

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