The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed more than 250 reported cases of meningitis, 29 deaths, and potentially thousands of people injected with the fungus-contaminated steroids in sixteen states. Health officials have linked New England Compounding Center, in Framingham, Massachusetts, as the distributor of the contaminated steroids that is commonly used to treat back and joint pain. Most of the fungal meningitis cases have been reported in Tennessee, but cases have also been reported in Michigan, Virginia, Indiana, Maryland, Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, New Jersey, Idaho, Texas, and Illlinois.
Fungal meningitis is a disease/infection that affects the outer lining of the brain and spinal cord. Common symptoms of fungal meningitis include headache, fever, dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, weakness or numbness, slurred speech and pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, which can take more than a month to appear. Unlike other forms of meningitis, the CDC has stated that fungal meningitis cannot be spread from person to person, but only those injected with the tainted steroid are considered to be at risk.
Claims of pharmacy malpractice, negligence, breach of warranties, and various other causes of action have already been filed against New England Compounding Center nationwide. Also, there have been lawsuits filed against physicians, health clinics, hospitals, and others linked to the contaminated product.
Currently, there are two pending lawsuits in the New Jersey state courts against an orthopedic and sports medicine clinic and two of the clinic’s physicians that are alleging negligent use of a defective medical products. While it is usually difficult to win claims against healthcare providers for using defective medical products that they did not produce, the hundreds and potentially thousands of people affected makes those linked to the contaminated product vulnerable to potential liability.
Although there has not been any confirmed cases of fungal meningitis in Oklahoma, 76 clinics in 23 states have received shipments of the recalled product. The CDC and health officials are referring any patients who have symptoms that suggest possible infections to their physicians, who can evaluate them further.
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