In 2012, a nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis was traced to contaminated steroid medicine that was used in spinal injections to treat those who suffered from chronic pain. A total of 64 people lost their lives as a result of the contamination, and more than 700 other nationwide victims became sick.
A victim from Tennessee was infected. The 75-year-old survived a fungal meningitis infection in 2012 and relapsed with a more serious case one year after. She was awarded $109,000. However, after medical bills for the extensive treatment she required with the two infections, attorney fees that will take one third of the settlement and Medicare reimbursements she owes, she does not expect to see any of the settlement. She may even end up with a negative balance after all the pain she’s experienced.
Who is at Fault? The Center That Created the Infected Steroids or the Hospitals That Distributed It?
The outbreak of meningitis was traced back to the New England Compounding Center, which is based in Massachusetts. Each patient named in the settlement receives a share of the $200 million fund established as a part of the center’s bankruptcy filing because, yes, the company went bankrupt following the meningitis outbreaks. However, this $200 million is not enough to fairly compensate the 1,350 victims listed as claimants, some of whom are family members of dead victims and many are victims who relapsed into multiple infections that required expensive treatments, like the Tennessee resident.
Victims are also holding medical facilities in Tennessee responsible for their illnesses. A civil case was brought against the following Tennessee companies:
- Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center
- Saint Thomas West Hospital
- Howell Allen Clinic
- Saint Thomas Health
- Saint Thomas Network
These facilities have been named in lawsuit for administering the tainted steroids to patients. Unfortunately, the U.S. District Judge overseeing the case ruled in favor of the Tennessee medical facilities. This means the victims must now prove these health care providers did not treat patients with the accepted standards of care and thus caused harm to the victims.
Tennessee Medical Facilities That Distributed the Defective Product Should be Held Responsible
The victims named in the lawsuit have asked the District Judge to reconsider the ruling, citing the Tennessee Products Liability Act. This law holds the sellers of defective products that cause harm responsible for any injury inflicted. Many of these victims, like the Tennessee resident we mentioned, suffered immensely and should not walk away from this horrible ordeal with nothing.
“The Lord bless you and keep; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26