Patients who received tainted injections of methylprednisolone acetate, a steroid used to treat chronic back or joint pain, manufactured by the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass. have learned that they could be at risk for developing dangerous abscesses. The abscesses are the second type of serious infection patients who received the tainted steroids could develop. Thirty-nine people died as a result of fungal meningitis infections and 620 people in 19 states have become ill with meningitis, spinal infections or both.
Although reports of meningitis cases seemed to have seems to have decreased, spinal infections and abscess cases continue to rise. Some patients have required surgery to treat the infection. Doctors are concerned because the abscesses can be difficult to detect, but still they expect more patients will be diagnosed with abscesses going forward. Almost 14,000 patients received injections from NECC’s tainted lots of the drug.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encouraged doctors to screen patients who could be at risk for infections more carefully. Patients who seemed to feel worse or continue to complain of persistent symptoms may be candidates for further testing, such as MRI scans. In more than 80 cases where abscesses were found, patients have required surgery and/or extended hospital stays.
In Michigan, where more cases of meningitis and spinal infections than any other state have been diagnosed, doctors at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital were the first to recognize that spinal infections were becoming a major problem. The hospital decided to go beyond the CDC’s recommendation offering every patient exposed to the contaminated drug an MRI scan of the injection site to look for abscesses and other signs of infection.
Methylprednisolone acetate injections are used to treat patients who have chronic back pain as well as those who have experienced inflammation causing discomfort and limited movement in joints such as knees, shoulders and hips. Those who received injections in their back are at the highest risk for a fungal infection. Patients who received a steroid injection for pain in joints such as the knee, shoulder or ankle could also acquire an infection.
Fungal meningitis is rare and usually the result of spread of a fungus through blood to the spinal cord. This form of meningitis is not contagious. Patients may begin experiencing symptoms of meningitis in the spine or brain about one to four weeks after injection. Symptoms of fungal meningitis include new or worsening headache, fever, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, new weakness or numbness in any part of your body, slurred speech and increased pain, redness or swelling at your injection site.
Though they are unlikely to be fatal, many patients may also contract infections as a result of the tainted steroid injections, especially those who received injections in a joint. The symptoms may take longer to appear and include fever, increased pain and redness, warmth, or swelling in the joint that received the injection or at the injection site. Infections can be difficult to treat and may require several months of antibiotics. Some infections will reoccur and may require surgical treatment. If you suspect that you may have received a tainted steroid injection or if you are experiencing symptoms that you believe may be the result of meningitis or a fungal infection, you should seek medical treatment immediately.
The Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at Messa & Associates are experienced at handling cases involving injuries as a result of defective drug and pharmaceutical products. Our extremely skilled team of personal injury attorneys and medical experts is dedicated to ensuring you receive proper compensation for your personal injuries. If you have been injured by a tainted steroid shot, a defective drug or medical device, a negligent medical provider, or have endured any other type of personal injury, contact the personal injury attorneys of Messa & Associates for a free consultation. Call toll free at 1-877-MessaLaw, or submit a free online inquiry.
Joseph L. Messa, Jr. is the founding partner of Messa & Associates, P.C. He is an AV-rated attorney (highest rating available), listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. Read More