SEATTLE (CN) – A climber who was airlifted off Mt. Everest says he almost died because his doctor gave him the wrong medication for altitude sickness. Jesse Easterling says he took the prescription drugs to prevent acute mountain sickness, high altitude cerebral edema and high altitude pulmonary edema as soon as he arrived in Nepal.
One of the drugs was too strong and should not have been used preventatively, Easterling claims in King County Court. He sued Dr. Keith Tang, Healthworks Medical Group of Washington and Target Corp.
Dexamethasone “may reduce brain swelling and other symptoms which can develop at high altitude. However, Dr. Tang violated the standard of care by prescribing it prophylactically,” the complaint states.
Easterling says he developed skin rashes, progressively debilitating fatigue, disorientation, bloody diarrhea and steroid-induced psychosis and was evacuated by helicopter to a Kathmandu hospital.
He says he was hospitalized for 12 days and needed transfusions of 7 pints of blood. On the return flight to Seattle, he suffered a seizure and panic attack and required oxygen.
Easterling says that on Dr. Tang’s orders he took dexamethasone, acetazolamide, and nifedipine for prophylaxis.
“Per Dr. Tang’s instructions, he was to continue with these medications until he reached the summit,” according to the complaint.
The base camp elevation was 5,340 meters (17,520 feet). Easterling says he got up to camp three at 6,340 meters (20,800 feet).
He seeks damages for pain and suffering and injuries, which he says are permanent, progressive and disabling.
He is represented by Michael Maxwell with Bernard & Lindquist.