Treatment for back pain usually follows a hierarchy ranging from physical therapy to surgery. In between the two lies epidural injections. As a Miami Personal injury lawyer, my clients most often voice their concern about the risk of paralysis or the possible side effects from steroids. That may no longer be the case, because now patients need to worry about Meningitis.
As reported by The associated Press, a rare outbreak of fungal meningitis has killed 7 people and sickened 35 others across 6 states. Investigators have focused on a steroid medication made by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts. The steroid was recalled last week by the pharmacy, New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass.
As a precaution, the Food and Drug Administration urged doctors not to use any of the company’s products, and released a list Friday that included other steroids, anesthetics and a blood pressure medicine. The company, which is now closed, said in a statement Thursday that despite the FDA warning, ”there is no indication of any potential issues with other products.” There are FDA-approved versions of the drug, sold by the brand name Depo-Medrol, in good supply. So patients who need the medicine should not encounter a shortage, the FDA said Friday.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include severe headache, nausea, dizziness and fever. Many of the victims have suffered from strokes.
Fungal meningitis is not contagious like the more common forms. The types of fungus linked to the outbreak are all around, but very rarely causes illness. Fungal meningitis is treated with high-dose antifungal medications, usually given intravenously in a hospital.
About 25 facilities in South Florida, including ones in Fort Lauderdale, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach and Miami, received medication from the New England pharmacy.
Per the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, eight Florida facilities that received the tainted injections have discarded them.
From a legal standpoint, a multitude of people can be held responsible.
If a patient was receiving an epidural injection for back pain caused by an accident, then the person that caused the accident is responsible for all damages that flow from the original accident. Thus, if a pharmacy provided contaminated medicine, the original tortfeasor is still responsible for all damages caused by the pharmacy. Of course, the pharmacy is ultimately liable.
In addition, any injuries caused by a doctor or surgical facility that continued to use the steroids from New England Compounding Center would be liable under a theory of Medical Malpractice