When a major medical outbreak occurs, like the fungal meningitis incident which continues to sweep across the country, there is a tendency to overly focus on the numbers. How many contaminated spinal steroid vials were made? How many were used? How many people have been diagnosed so far? What is the current death count?
These figures provide a ready indicator of the overall scope of the problem and its trajectory. However, they do little to share the realities faced by individual families as a result of this unacceptable drug contamination. At the end of the day, however, that real-world reality is why we care about this in the first place–thousands are suffering. In our work as drug recall lawyers and on product liability cases, the attorneys at our firm have come to appreciate the value of understanding individual stories related to the tragedy. The numbers tell us one thing but the individual stories are ultimately more important. And from a legal persepctive, the civil justice system focuses on individual harm and the loss experienced by those affected.
Wife Dies, Husband Infected
A recent story from My Desert.com provides a heartfelt example of the devestation some families face as a result of this outbreak. The article shares the story of a 65-year old man who, less than a month ago, lost his wife as a result of complications from the spinal steroid recall incident. The woman had the shot in August and suffered a stroke a few weeks later in her brainstem. Her husband also had the spinal injections (in mid-September). However, initial tests revelead that he was not infected. Tragically, those tests proved to be wrong. The man became sick this last weekend and was diagnosed with the same fungal meningitis linked to the contaminated steroid that took his wife’s life.
This sort of delayed development is not uncommon. Medical professionals note that it can take weeks (or even months) for the symptoms to show up following a contamination. In this man’s case he received a spinal tap on October 17th which did not reveal meningitis. However, the doctors admitted that a follow up was likely necessary. It wasn’t long, however, before he began showing the tell-tale signs of the problem. His daughter explained that he had ” severe headaches, severe neck pain, light sensitivity, pain behind his eyes. His motor skills started to deteriorate where he was not speaking clearly.”
It is impossible to understand exactly what this family is going through, losing one loved one unexpectedly and then finding a second affected in the same way. Hundreds of other families across the country, including in Illinois, are going through the same thing. When the dust settles it is critical that those whose negligence and irresponsibility contributed to this suffering be held accountable for the extreme losses. In addition, this mass outbreak hopefully comes with regulatory and safety changes which might prevent similar incidents from occurring again in other pharmaceutical compounding facilities.
The drug recall lawyers at our firm are continuing to investigate this matter and are working with all those affected. Hundreds have already been identified as having devloped the fungal meningitis and at least 24 have died as a result. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that many more cases may develop in the coming weeks. If you find yourself in this situation, please take a moment to call our office to see how we can help.
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