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24 dead in meningitis outbreak, wrongful death suits expected

The American health care system is among the best in the world. This has led many Texas patients to believe that the care that they receive will be professional, safe and effective. The recent outbreak of deadly fungal meningitis has undermined the trust that patients place in our health care system, and recent investigations into the source of the contamination suggest that just one lapse in maintaining proper standards can bring a tragic outcome to people across the nation. At the time of this report, 24 patients have died in connection to the outbreak, and the likelihood of wrongful death suits seems overwhelming.

The contamination has been sourced to one New England compounding pharmacy, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe manufactured steroid injections that were administered to as many as 14,000 patients across the US. A recent inspection of that facility revealed multiple safety violations, including the presence of dirty floors in areas where supposedly sterile medications were mixed. In addition, a boiler at the facility was found to have a leak, leading to an environment that could support the growth of contaminants.

The inspectors, upon arrival, found pharmacy employees in the process of attempting to clean the areas where drugs were compounded. They also detected evidence of bleach decontamination. The pharmacy has recalled all products manufactured at the site and has stopped operations in the aftermath of the meningitis outbreak. Other area pharmacies are currently the subject of unannounced inspections by state health officials.

For the families of the patients who have died as a result of this outbreak, the sudden loss of their loved ones must be overwhelming. As more information becomes available about the source and causes of this fungal contamination, affected individuals and their families in Texas will have a better understanding of their avenues of legal recourse against the responsible party or parties. Wrongful death lawsuits seem likely in connection to the outbreak, and successfully litigated claims may help families recover monetary damages associated with the sudden death of a loved one.

Source: ABC News, "Meningitis Outbreak: Pharmacy Inspection Reveals Drug-Safety Lapses," Katie Moisse, Oct. 24, 2012

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