The United States has recently seen one of the most distressing and deadly outbreaks of fungal meningitis in years. While not contagious, fungal meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord with symptoms include headache, fever and nausea, and even death. This particular outbreak has gradually morphed into a medical scandal of sorts, with multiple media outlets covering the story after the source of the disease was traced back to one U.S. company that, unfortunately, had a wide-reaching arm. In the wake of the health scandal, the New England Compounding Center (NECC), the Massachusetts-based company responsible for distributing hundreds of contaminated vials of steroids across the country has finally recalled the product.
Unfortunately, despite these corrective measures, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the number of reported cases has continued to increase at an alarming rate, with approximately 205 incidents reported across 14 states. Of those cases reported, fifteen deaths have ensued, with Tennessee being the hardest-hit state. Even more cases may soon emerge, since an estimated 14,000 people were in receipt of the vials.
For medical malpractice attorneys, the outbreak has brought attention to the possible need for reform in the medical malpractice arena. At the same time, in engaging in conversations about it, many of us are aware that all too often regulation changes do not come until after a large scale incident like this one has already occurred. So where exactly did the problem stem from, and were there warning signs that this might happen?