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Meningitis Breakout

Posted on October 24, 2012

Medical malpractice cases are an unfortunate experience but can happen to anyone. If the case is due to negligence of some sort, it can be considered a legal matter which leads to personal injury.

The widespread meningitis exposure is putting more than 14,000 public members at risk of being infected by the possibly fatal disease.

The cause of the disease is a steroid which was contaminated by a fungus. The steroid was injected to relieve back pain. Now, many people who were exposed must wait to see if they too will be infected with meningitis. As of Monday, 282 people have been infected with the disease and 23 have died in connection with the contaminated drug, produced at the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass.

According to a New York Times article from September,  health officials say the contamination comes from the actual injections and not the clinics where the steroid was administered:

“Health officials emphasized that the problem appeared to come from the medication and not the clinics themselves, and that the clinics had immediately cooperated by notifying patients and, in the case of Saint Thomas, shutting down when the outbreak was recognized. But the officials have released few details about the source of the drug, saying the investigation was continuing.”

Other patients have experienced joint infections after being exposed to the drug, methylprednisolone, which was injected into elbows, knees, shoulders or hips.

In 23 states, three lots of the drug, or more than 17,000 vials, have been shipped from the producer. Despite the widespread infection, the disease is not contagious.

Every single day, the case count rises and experts are working adamantly to determine which of the patients who were exposed may be infected and more likely to contract meningitis.

Medical professionals hope the infection cases will be quickly identified in order to watch their state and administer spinal taps and other tests which will hopefully help to treat the disease early enough to avoid deadly alternatives.

A method will soon be available for doctors to estimate the likelihood of a patient’s risk and to see how aggressively doctors should follow-up with patients, Dr. Marion Kainer of the Tennessee Health Department told The New York Times on Friday.

In Tennessee, where the highest number of cases and deaths has been reported-69 cases and nine deaths as of Saturday-the State Health Department has found some lots of the steroid to be more likely to infect patients than others.

As the medicine becomes older and when given in a higher dose, patients are far more likely to become sick. The fungus multiplies and the medicine becomes riskier as the medicine ages.

If the disease is detected early enough and treatment begins quickly there after, the more likely the treatment will work effectively. Doctors have warned patients to not wait until becoming severely ill but instead to seek treatment and testing immediately if they were exposed.

It remains difficult for doctors to determine whether symptoms are worsening for people who are already experiencing chronic pains. Even worse is the stress factor, which makes it exceedingly difficult for patients to know if their case is worse than before.

The majority of the meningitis cases are being caused by a fungus called Exserohilum, a black mold. The medications which have been administered to ill patients can cause liver and kidney problems, abnormal heart rhythms and hallucinations.

If you or someone you know has been infected, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses in a medical malpractice suit.

Contact a steroid meningitis lawyer at the Accident Attorneys’ Group today to find out how much you are entitled to.



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