People are allergic to all sorts of things, from bee stings to penicillin. Reactions to allergens can range from irritating like a runny nose to deadly, like anaphylaxis. And there is one allergy that many know little about, yet that can lead to extremely dangerous injuries: latex allergies.
It is estimated that about 3 million people in the United States have an allergy to natural latex. Populations at elevated åspecific risk include health care workers and children with spina bifida. It is estimated that between 8% and 17% of health care workers have either a latex sensitivity or latex allergy.
Latex allergies are autoimmune in nature and are based on actual physical contact. There are naturally occurring proteins in latex that create the allergic reaction in those who suffer from this type of allergy. Serious latex allergies can result in rashes, difficulty breathing and in rare cases, death.
Where Is Latex?
Herein lies the rub. Latex is incredibly common. It is found in many medical products like tape, gloves, tubing and bandages. It is also found in food service gloves, some foam rubber products and in some adhesives. It also is naturally occurring in some food products that are related to the rubber plant like avocado and kiwi fruit.
Who Can Be Injured?
It is ironic that many health care workers suffer from latex allergies as they are also the people who most often cause latex allergy attacks. Most accredited hospitals have tried to go latex-free. However, many health care providers have not. Obviously, if you have a known latex allergy it behooves you to make sure they know this. Unfortunately, time and again, there are cases where the health care provider knew a person to have a latex allergy and accidentally used a product containing latex anyway, resulting in injuries.
The other arena where people can be injured by latex is in food service. The propensity of food service workers to wear gloves is close to universal these days. In fact, it is mandated in some jurisdictions, like Arizona. However, some studies have shown that latex proteins may be transferred to food products when touched by latex gloves. If the person who then consumes the food has a heightened sensitivity to latex, she can then develop a reaction to the protein left in her food. The problem here is that very often, you don’t see the people working in the kitchen of a restaurant. You have no idea if the gloves they use are latex, vinyl or nitrile. In our current atmosphere of cost cutting, many restaurants opt for latex gloves because they are cheaper than either nitrile or vinyl.
In Florida, a person who has been injured by latex exposure has several avenues to recover for their damages. A medical professional who is injured might have a products liability claim and/or a workers’ compensation claim. A patient who is injured might have a products liability claim (if the product is not labeled as containing latex, for example) or a medical malpractice claim (the doctor knew of the latex allergy and used latex based products anyway). A patron at a restaurant might recover for damages based on product liability or straight negligence.
Our Attorneys Can Help You
What is important to note is that if you find yourself having been injured because of latex exposure, you have a very real chance of recovering compensation for your damages. Latex allergy cases are very complex due to the scientific nature of much of the evidence. You need to rely on experienced representation to ensure that you get the results you deserve. If you have been injured in the Tallahassee area, give the skilled professionals at Barrett, Fasig & Brooks a call today at (850) 224-3310 to set up your free initial consultation. We have the experience and dedication to make sure that your rights are protected.