Hormone Replacement Therapy, or “HRT,” can be used in a few different contexts. HRT may be used as gender care by those who are seeking a more gender affirming life experience, such as transitioning from female to male. In such cases, a person would be essentially diluting their estrogen levels with testosterone, so the body begins to function how that person would like.
Other common applications for hormone replacement therapy are aimed at restoring abnormal hormone levels back to normal levels in those who are experiencing hormonal issues. This sort of hormone replacement therapy may be prescribed for someone who has been diagnosed with low testosterone, or low estrogen.
Hormone replacement therapy can involve a number of methods, including but not limited to:
- Oral administration of drugs, such as pills;
- Routine injections;
- Vaginal rings;
- Topical creams, gels, or patches; and/or
- Other aspects such as dietary changes
HRT can sometimes be used in connection with other treatments, such as fertility treatments and some forms of cancer treatments.
How Does Hormone Therapy Work?
How the therapy process works will vary widely based on the goal of the therapy. As previously mentioned, there are several different applications for the therapy, as well as many different ways to actually accomplish those goals. Such solutions are highly individualized and tailored to each specific patient, due to the fact that no two patients have the exact same needs or initial hormone levels.
To choose one specific instance, hormone replacement therapy is commonly used in various cancer treatments. The therapy uses drugs and/or surgery to stop cancer cells from growing. HRT either prevents further production of abnormal, cancer-causing hormones; or, it changes the actions of the hormones. When HRT is used to treat cancer, it may involve the use of either synthetic or drugs intended to halt the body’s natural hormone actions. Alternatively, some drugs may be used that actually stop the production of the body’s natural hormones altogether. Doing so also stops, or slows, the growth of the cancer.
HRT is most commonly utilized in treating menopause in women. The pros and cons of HRT should be discussed with a medical professional, as it is within their scope of practice. To summarize, pros of HRT for menopause treatment specifically can include:
- Relief of problematic menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, and dry and/or itchy skin;
- Reduced risk of developing osteoporosis, which reduces the risk of bone breakage;
- Improved mood and overall sense of wellbeing;
- Decrease in tooth loss often related to menopause and/or osteoporosis;
- Reduced risk of colon cancer and diabetes;
- Potential joint pain improvement; and/or
- A lower death rate for women taking hormone replacement therapy in their 50s.
However, there are notable cons of HRT for menopausal women:
- An increased risk of endometrial cancer under specific circumstances;
- Increased risk of blood clots and stroke under specific circumstances;
- Increased chance of gallbladder and/or gallstone issues; and/or
- An increased risk of dementia, if hormone replacement therapy begins once the patient has been in menopause for ten years.
Is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Legal, and Are There Any Legal Issues to Consider?
Hormone replacement therapy is sometimes associated with different legal issues. Examples of such issues could include:
- Product Liability: This is especially true for dangerous drugs associated with hormone therapy. A products liability claim involves a manufacturer or seller of a product being held accountable for placing a defective product in the stream of commerce. Any party responsible for any part of the manufacture of the product may be held liable, just as any seller may be liable;
- Medical Malpractice: Medical malpractice is most commonly associated with doctors making mistakes in treating patients. However, medical malpractice includes any treatment, lack of treatment, or other departure from accepted standards of medical care, health care, or safety on the part of a healthcare provider. This departure ultimately causes harm to a patient;
- Negligence: Negligence refers to the legal theory in which injured people are allowed to recover for the carelessness of others. A person is negligent if they were careless, given the circumstances of the situation, and their carelessness resulted in the harm or injury of another person; and
- Pharmaceutical Errors: An example of this would be if a pharmacy incorrectly provides the wrong medication dosage to a patient, against the guidance of the medication’s manufacturer. Pharmacist malpractice is generally associated with medical malpractice.
In HRT injury claims, liability can often lie with a single individual, such as a nurse or doctor. However, an entire organization may be held liable depending on the circumstances. An example of this would be a fertility clinic performing procedures that do not conform to state and/or federal standards. A lawsuit could result in the plaintiff obtaining damages for losses caused by an injury or illness.
What Are Some Hormone Therapy Injuries?
As previously mentioned, while hormone replacement therapy is an invaluable treatment option for some conditions, it is not without risk of injury. In addition to what has already been discussed, hormone replacement therapy can also be linked to injuries such as:
- Enlarged prostate glands;
- High blood pressure, as well as other heart related conditions;
- The hyper stimulation of the ovarian system; and/or
- Various types of pregnancy related complications, such as the unplanned birth of twins, triplets, or quadruplets.
Some injuries associated with the process can be experienced as simple side-effects of the hormone therapy drugs. Other injuries may occur due to negligence or malpractice. An example of this would be if a certain type of drug is administered in too high of a dosage. This could result in several unwanted or even dangerous effects. Another example involves medical personnel failing to properly monitor hormone levels throughout the course of treatment.
Can I Sue for Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Side Effects and Injuries?
Patients may be able to sue for injuries experienced from hormone replacement therapy. Most commonly, this would be because of medical malpractice or negligence. Most medical malpractice cases involve numerous expert medical witnesses and complicated facts. Doctors are usually unwilling to admit errors, and often have the resources to contest lawsuits. Additionally, many state limits on medical malpractice awards.
Because of the power and resources that hospitals and doctors have in the health industry, a medical malpractice claim is very difficult for patients to pursue. In many states, before a plaintiff can even file a malpractice action against a healthcare professional, they are required to file what is commonly known as a “certificate of merit.” To do so, the plaintiff must first have an expert review the relevant medical records and certify that the plaintiff’s health care provider may have committed malpractice. Such an expert is commonly another physician. An HRT lawsuit lawyer would be best suited for determining what each state requires of medical malpractice plaintiffs.
Damages available in a hormone replacement therapy injury claim are generally similar to those of other personal injury claims. A damages award will likely be ordered to reimburse the plaintiff for any harm they have experienced. Such an award is intended to cover:
- Medical expenses;
- Hospital bills;
- Therapy costs; and/or
- Missed wages.
In particularly egregious circumstances, a judge may order punitive damages as well. These damages are intended to punish the defendant for their negligence and often include orders to rewrite policies, or halt certain procedures.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Hormone Therapy Injuries? /Do I Need a Lawyer?
Hormone replacement therapy litigation can be a lengthy process, depending on the specifics of each circumstance. A person may be involved in a hormone replacement therapy class action lawsuit, if enough patients have been similarly affected by the same product or procedure.
An experienced hormone replacement therapy lawyer, such as a personal injury lawyer, will be highly beneficial if you have experienced any hormone therapy injuries. They will be knowledgeable of your state’s individual laws regarding the matter, as well as if there are any class actions you may join. Additionally, an attorney can also represent you in court and work to get you an adequate damages award.