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Providence Personal Injury Lawyer > Blog > Traumatic Brain Injury > Rhode Island Woman Sent to Hospital with Blue Blood Highlights Catastrophic Injuries Caused That Can Result from Some Benzocaine Products

Rhode Island Woman Sent to Hospital with Blue Blood Highlights Catastrophic Injuries Caused That Can Result from Some Benzocaine Products


A recent incident involving a 25-year-old woman who went to the emergency room here in Rhode Island complaining of generalized weakness and shortness of breath – and whose blood was literally turning blue (“cyanosis”) due to a product called benzocaine – highlights the dangers that some products pose to certain members of the population, especially when it comes to small children. The case actually inspired a new study to be published on the issue in the New England Journal of Medicine on September 19.

The patient was diagnosed with a condition known as Acquired Methemoglobinemia, which comes about as a reaction to some medicine that prevents the blood from carrying oxygen to tissues. A chemical called benzocaine – which is in a number of numbing medications used for toothaches and cold sores – causes the issue. According to medical experts, if the levels of the mutated blood increase to 50 percent or higher, it can cause patients to develop brain and/or heart complications, or eventually go into a coma due to the lack of blood reaching tissue, and if it rises to more than 60 percent, the individual can die.


As a result, a number of lawsuits have been brought against manufacturers of products that contain benzocaine, especially those produced to treat teething pain in babies. Unfortunately, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not order manufacturers to warn consumers about the risks of potentially deadly benzocaine products until May 2018 in response to litigation filed against the agency, although at least four people – including one infant – have died due to its side effects since 2009, and hundreds have developed methemoglobinemia. Advocates that have pushed the agency to take action not only asked that a label be provided advising consumers against using products containing the chemical for infant teething pain, but that infant teething pain also officially be removed as an approved use for benzocaine in general.

Experts warn that both manufacturers and regulators knew that benzocaine was linked to methemoglobinemia as far back as 1991, but still chose to do nothing about it, including provide very basic warnings on products that contained the chemical. In 1991, the FDA did go so far as to note that benzocaine products are not actually useful when it comes to teething pain relief because they do not stay on the infant’s gums. As a result, manufacturers who still include the chemical in infant teething products are arguably behaving negligently.

If You Live in Rhode Island & Have Suffered a Catastrophic Injury, Contact Our Providence Personal Injury Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been harmed by a negligently-produced product here in Rhode Island, contact our experienced Providence traumatic brain injury attorneys at the Kiselica Law Firm today to find out how we can help.




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