For Nurse Nancy Hodges and other SBU staff and
members who persist in voicing the dangerous and irresponsible
delusion that one cannot become sensitized to formaldehyde
(related to the formic acid in bee stings), pesticides, or petroleum
products, and that re-exposures to these substances after
experiencing a life-threatening allergic reaction to the substance
was (in the words of Nurse Hodges) "perfectly safe," this article
offers a different perspective.
Bear in mind that as a result of multiple exposures
to the aromatic-
hydrocarbon-based pesticides at SBU, Marie has experienced
severe cardiac sensitivities to epinephrine -- the treatment of
choice for the extreme, life-threatening form of allergic reaction
known as anaphylactic or anaphylactoid shock.
For educational purposes only.
Jury Awards $5 Million to Man Told
He Wasn't Allergic to Bee Stings
SEATTLE -- A man left severely brain damaged by a yellow-
jacket sting has won a $5 million malpractice verdict against
a doctor who had told him he wasn't allergic to bee or wasp
A King County Superior Court jury on Tuesday awarded
dentist Daniel Topham $3.4 million for future loss of earning
power, $665,000 for past loss of income, and $500,000 for
damages unrelated to earning power.
His wife, Cynthia Topham of Bellevue, was awarded $500,000
The Tophams contended in their lawsuit against Dr. Gail Shapiro,
an allergist, that she negligently treated Daniel Topham for a
sting allergy in 1996.
Topham, 30, was stung by yellow jackets twice within a week
in 1992, when he was 23. The second sting triggered a near-
fatal allergic reaction, which prompted his doctor to prescribe
him a self-injection device containing epinephrine, a sting-
In 1996, Topham met Shapiro socially at a wedding and
discussed his sting reaction. She mentioned that venom
immunotherapy could perhaps help him, testimony
When Topham sought treatment at the Northwest Allergy
and Asthma Center, where Shapiro worked, she said
she administered a skin test considered the most reliable
way to determine whether a patient has a venom allergy.
The skin test came back negative. Shapiro testified she
opted not to use venom immunotherapy to desensitize
Topham to future stings, though she was aware he had
experienced reactions previously.
The Tophams' lawyers argued that Shapiro should have
tried to confirm the test results via a blood test, because
about 10 percent of the initial skin test results are inaccurate.
The jurors agreed, ruling Shapiro negligently treated
Topham and that her negligence caused the injuries he
later received after being stung in July 1997 -- a cardiac
arrest, two weeks in a coma and severe brain damage.
Shapiro's lawyer, Doug Hofmann, said his client would
not appeal the jury's ruling.
"We think the doctor did the right thing, but this was a very
emotionally charged case -- the saddest case I've ever seen,"
Jurors ruled the Northwest Allergy and Asthma Center
was not negligent in training its workers.
"I believe this verdict is justice for Dan," Mrs. Topham said.
"I'm hopeful that in the future, other patients will receive
much better care than the care my husband received."
Between 1 million and 2 million people in the United States
are severely allergic to stinging-insect venom; each year, 90
to 100 deaths from sting reactions are reported, according
to an Ohio State University study.
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