Chicago Drug Injury Lawyer Reacts to Confirmation of Fungus Found in Steroid Shots

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Attorney Patrick A. Salvi of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. says confirmation that a potentially deadly fungus originated from steroid injections shipped by a Massachusetts pharmacy leads to questions concerning how the products became dangerously contaminated.

Chicago, IL fungal meningitis outbreak attorney

Chicago drug injury lawyer Patrick A. Salvi

The focus now turns to looking into how this happened, and who should be held fully accountable for the physical and emotional harm that has been suffered by patients and their families across the country.

Chicago drug injury lawyer Patrick A. Salvi said today that those who have been sickened in a nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis and joint infection cases should know that a source of their illness has been officially confirmed by U.S. health officials.

“The focus now turns to looking into how this happened, and who should be held fully accountable for the physical and emotional harm that has been suffered by patients and their families across the country,” said Salvi, managing equity partner of the Chicago personal injury firm of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. “There are many questions that still need answers.”

On October 18, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement saying that they had confirmed the presence of a fungus known as Exserohilum rostratum in unopened medication vials of the steroid methylprednisolone acetate from one of three lots that were shipped across the U.S. prior to September 26 by a Massachusetts-based specialty pharmacy.

The New England Compounding Center (NECC), which is facing a federal investigation, is believed to have shipped the potentially contaminated vials to as many as 76 facilities in 23 states, including the APAC Centers for Pain Management in Chicago and Westchester and Thorek Memorial Hospital in Chicago, the CDC says. As many as 14,000 patients may have been exposed to the contaminated steroid vials.

“Now we can definitely say that the injections are linked to the infection,” Dr. Tom Chiller of the CDC told Reuters, adding that the CDC “has no firm evidence of infection in any patients beyond those exposed to the contaminated lots.”

The CDC and FDA said they were continuing to test the other two lots of methylprednisolone acetate from the NECC as well as other products from the pharmacy that may have been injected in patients.

Salvi’s firm, which recently was featured on the cover of Chicago Lawyer magazine for obtaining $46.51 million in settlements (in cases over $2 million) over the past year, is currently investigating the outbreak of fungal meningitis and joint infection cases for patients in Illinois and across the country, including a New York resident.

Although the steroid shots mainly were used in spinal injections, many patients may have received the steroid for pain in such joints as knees, ankles, hips and shoulders.

On October 19, the CDC said it had identified 268 cases of fungal meningitis, stroke due to presumed fungal meningitis or other central nervous system-related infection as well as three cases of peripheral joint infections in a total of 16 states. Twenty-one people have died.

In addition to one confirmed case in Illinois, cases have been reported in the Midwest in Michigan (53), Indiana (35), Ohio (11) and Minnesota (7).

According to Reuters, the majority of the meningitis cases have been linked to the Exserohilum rostratum fungus, which appears to aggressively attack tissues in the spine and brain.

“Unfortunately, we know that the scope of this outbreak will only continue to expand in the weeks and months ahead,” Salvi said. “We’re still a far away from knowing the full extent of the damage that has been done.”

About Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C.

Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. is a leading Chicago personal injury firm with offices in Chicago (22 West Washington Street, Suite 1600, Chicago IL 60602) and Waukegan (218 North Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, Waukegan, IL 60085). The firm represents clients in matters involving medication errors, emergency room errors, failure to diagnose, hospital negligence, physician error, birth injuries, surgical malpractice, anesthesia errors, organ puncture/perforation, post-operative and pre-operation malpractice and surgical complications. The firm’s success in medical negligence, personal injury and wrongful death cases features recoveries of more than $630 million on behalf of its clients, including more than 180 multi-million dollar verdicts or settlements. To learn more about Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., call (312) 372-1227 or use the firm’s online form.

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