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November 2012 Archives

Senator Hune's Senate Committee Passes Medical Malpractice Bills

Hune's Senate Committee Passes Medical Malpractice Bills

11/27/12 - Three bills pertaining to medical malpractice, including one sponsored by State Senator Joe Hune, were approved by the Senate Insurance Committee yesterday and now go to the senate floor. Hune chairs the Insurance Committee and he says the primary purpose of the legislative package is to prevent abuse of medical malpractice laws by patients seeking damages. Opponents of the bills say they would reduce a patient's right to sue for reimbursement for injuries caused by mistakes made by doctors or hospitals. Some also claimed it would specifically interfere with litigation against a Massachusetts pharmacy that distributed steroid injections tainted with fungal meningitis. The committee allowed additional testimony from the public at yesterday's meeting to hear from lawyers and citizens who opposed the bills. A handful of people spoke, most of them opposed the bills and others expressing concern and urging caution. Hune says the fungal meningitis cases will not be affected by the bills at all and said attorneys' claims to the contrary were nothing but theatrics. He tells WHMI any other problems, such as a complaint by one woman that the bills would prevent patients from seeking compensation for non-work-related losses, will be fixed before the bill passes the senate. Only one committee member, Democrat Steven Bieda, voted against the bills' passing. Hune says the legislative package will probably go before the senate on Thursday. (TD)

Meningitis: Toll Tops 500

The number of cases in the continuing fungal meningitis outbreak has reached 510, with 36 deaths, the CDC reported Monday, Nov. 26, 2012.

The toll includes 496 cases of central nervous system infection, usually involving meningitis, and 14 cases of peripheral joint infections, the agency reported.

Fungal meningitis update: Epidural abscesses contribute to challenges of outbreak

A fungal meningitis patient holds one of the pills she takes twice a day for treatment Nov. 8 in her Minnesota home. Some patients that have been treated for fungal meningitis are readmitted to the hospital after developing an abscess of infection at the injection site.

Younger people are having strokes

Strokes are more common among older people, but researchers are finding that the stroke age is growing younger. At the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Brett Kissela looked at data on first strokes in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area from July 1993 to June 1994, and in 1999 and 2005. Kissela says younger people are driving down the average:

What Is a Stroke?

A stroke occurs if the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a portion of the brain is blocked. Without oxygen, brain cells start to die after a few minutes. Sudden bleeding in the brain also can cause a stroke if it damages brain cells.

Treating Michigan's fungal meningitis patients: Ann Arbor hospital opens new ward, brings in nurses

Nurse Larry Johnson fills out charts Thursday in the fungal meningitis ward at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor in Superior Township. Johnson, who works as an oncology nurse at St. Joseph Mercy Port Huron, is among a group of nurses from other Trinity Health System hospitals that have responded to a call to help care for fungal meningitis patients in Ann Arbor.

Doctors and nurses at St. Joe's and at hospitals in 19 states across the country are dealing with an extremely rare illness with no established course of treatment. Friday, the hospital was treating 79 patients -- up six from the day before, which is more than the total caseload that many other states dealing with the outbreak have all together.

How Back Pain Turned Deadly

RANDALL KINNARD'S legal clients had steroids injected into their backs last summer for a wide range of reasons. Of the 25, one got three shots in a two-month period when pain never totally disappeared. Another got one as a preventive measure because she was going on a trip to Europe and was worried that cobblestones would aggravate an old injury.

Meningitis: Mapping the Outbreak

A crowd of more than 300 people at a funeral visitation is unusual for the small town of Adairville, Ky., but the gathering showed just how much people there respect and admire Marie Prince Hester, said leaders of the Living Word Church where the visitation was held.

Family’s Questions About Alzheimer’s Patients Can Put Nurses in a Bind

Nurses often struggle to be honest but upbeat when answering inquiries, study says

TUESDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) — Many nurses and other health workers at Alzheimer’s care facilities feel unprepared to tell patients’ family members the truth about their loved one’s condition, a new study finds.

Medical Board Steps up Investigations of Fake Doctors

The state medical board has investigated a mounting number of people posing as doctors and offering risky treatments, including a San Francisco man who performed liposuction while smoking a cigar and a San Diego woman who sickened a patient with lengthy IV infusion treatments.

Antibiotics Aren't Always the Answer

Colds and many other upper respiratory infections, as well as some ear infections, are caused by viruses, not bacteria. If antibiotics are used too often for things they can't treat--like colds or other viral infections--they can stop working effectively against bacteria when you or your child really needs them. Antibiotic resistance--when antibiotics can no longer cure bacterial infections--has been a concern for years and is considered one of the world's most critical public health threats.

Senators fault FDA on Ameridose

WASHINGTON -- During the second day of congressional hearings into a fatal meningitis outbreak blamed on a Framingham pharmacy, senators said regulators not only failed to move aggressively against New England Compounding Center, but also a sister company that supplies drugs to thousands of hospitals nationwide. As a result of a problematic 2008 inspection of Ameridose LLC, a large-scale drug compounder in Westborough, Food and Drug Administration investigators recommended that the agency issue a warning letter to the company, according to a report prepared by the staff of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, which held the hearing.

FDA to Congress: Fungal meningitis outbreak could happen again

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg testifies Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, before the House Energy subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing on the fungal meningitis outbreak. Without better legislation, Hamburg says, more such outbreaks could happen.

Food and Drug Administration officials know little about compounding pharmacies in the U.S., including who all is making drugs and medical supplies, how much they are making and where they are sending it, the agency's commissioner said Thursday.

2012 Fungal MeningitisTimeline

September 21, 2012: The Tennessee Department of Health notified the CDC that a patient developed meningitis about 19 days after being injected with an epidural steroid at a Tennessee ambulatory surgical center.

Documents in Meningitis Case Show Complaints in 1999

The Massachusetts Department of Health released hundreds of pages of documents on Monday detailing a history of violations at the New England Compounding Center, whose tainted medicine has caused a nationwide meningitis outbreak. The documents include dozens of complaints from as early as April 1999, less than a year after the company began as a compounding pharmacy in Framingham, Mass.

Congressional Letters to the FDA and CDC Regarding the NECC Fungal Meningitis Outbreak

  • October 8, 2012, Letter to the FDA from Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) regarding the NECC fungal meningitis outbreak.

US doctors can consider spinal taps for more steroid patients-CDC

(Reuters) – U.S. doctors monitoring patients for signs of fungal meningitis can consider performing spinal taps, possibly weekly, on some of those who received contaminated steroid injections, even if they show no symptoms, health officials said on Wednesday.

FDA finds contaminated vials, bacteria and mold at New England Compounding Center

So far, 331 cases of fungal meningitis have been found in 18 states, including 25 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The newest state to report an infection was South Carolina, and the latest death was reported in Tennessee. Seven other peripheral joint infections from injections given to joints such as the knees, hips, shoulders and elbows, have also been linked to the outbreak.

Ameridose Issues Recall of All Products

October 31, 2012
 Dear Customer:
 Ameridose is conducting a voluntary recall of any unexpired products remaining in circulation. This action is voluntary, and represents an expansion of our cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy.
During the course of its on-going inspection of our facility, FDA has notified Ameridose that it will be seeking improvements in Ameridose's sterility testing process. 

CDC Responds to Multistate Meningitis Outbreak

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the  Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are currently coordinating a multistate  investigation of fungal infection among patients who received a steroid  injection with a potentially contaminated product either into the spinal area or  in a joint space, such as a knee, shoulder or ankle.

Voluntary Recall of All Ameridose Medical Products

Voluntary Recall of All Ameridose Medical Products

Summary: On October 31, 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that Ameridose is voluntarily recalling all of its unexpired medical products in circulation. Ameridose is based in Westborough, Mass., and is managed by some of the same people as the New England Compounding Center (NECC), the firm that distributed and recalled injectable medications implicated in the ongoing multistate outbreak of fungal meningitis and other infections. FDA is not aware of any recent reports of infections associated with the recalled Ameridose products. However, the preliminary results of FDA's ongoing inspection of Ameridose have raised concerns about a lack of sterility assurance for products produced at and distributed by this facility. As a result of FDA's preliminary findings, Ameridose has agreed to voluntarily recall all of its unexpired products in circulation.

Case Definitions for Meningitis and Septic Arthritis

The CDC's Case Definitions for Meningitis and Septic Arthritis

Probable Case

A person who received a preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate (MPA) injection, with preservative-free MPA that definitely or likely came from one of the following three lots produced by the New England Compounding Center (NECC) [[email protected], [email protected], [email protected]], and subsequently developed any of the following:

Interim Treatment Guidance for Central Nervous System (CNS) and Parameningeal Infections Associated with Injection of Contaminated Steroid Products

Interim Treatment Guidance for Central Nervous System (CNS) and Parameningeal Infections Associated with Injection of Contaminated Steroid Products

MICHIGAN-Important Information Regarding Meningitis Associated with Steroid Injections

As of November 7, 2012, Michigan's case count associated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention multi-state meningitis investigation is 124 total cases and eight deaths [63 cases of meningitis, eight deaths*, 54 epidural abscess, one stroke and six joint infections].

Senator Bieda: Meningitis Outbreak Highlights Failure of Drug Immunity Law

WARREN- Senator Steve Bieda (D-Warren) is renewing calls to pass his legislation that would end immunity for drug companies in Michigan. Under the current Michigan Drug Immunity Law, any drug that is approved by the FDA is immune from lawsuit, even if that drug seriously harms or kills patients. There is debate as to whether this law could prevent patients from seeking compensation in the recent meningitis outbreak from contaminated drugs.

Bad CDC Data May Have Skewed Research

A commonly used database run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is  fraught with serious errors, some of which indicate that patients were  impossibly pronounced dead in the emergency department, but then intubated and admitted  to the intensive care unit the same day, according to a Loma Linda University  report.

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