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Michigan affected by meningitis outbreak

By this point, most Michigan residents have likely heard about the meningitis outbreak that infected nearly 100 people and killed seven, with the numbers still growing. Health officials have concluded that the disease is connected to a steroid that patients used to treat back pain. The Center for Disease Control is monitoring the numbers and states that the outbreak has hit nine states so far, including Michigan.

The Massachusetts pharmacy that made the steroid has recalled the drug and all of the pharmacy's products as a precautionary measure, but what about the patients who were contaminated with the disease? As far as medication errors go, this case is very troubling because of its magnitude and scope.

Injured patients, however, may have some recourse through a medical malpractice claim against the pharmaceutical company that distributed the steroid. Generally, pharmaceutical companies owe a duty to the consumer that the medicine will be reasonably safe when used or consumed.

Patients in certain North Carolina facilities are also being warned. These patients received injections of the steroid from a supplier suspected in another North Carolina outbreak. The steroid can be used for other purposes, but so far, all of the meningitis cases are the result of spinal injections. Health officials are telling the patients to look for symptoms of the disease, which generally do not present for one to four weeks, which indicates that there may be more cases to come.

Once it is discovered where exactly the steroids became contaminated, it can be determined whether or not the pharmaceutical company that supplied the drugs breached its duty of care to the consumer patients. Any patient who was affected by the contaminated steroid may be able to bring a lawsuit against a negligent pharmaceutical company. For the family members of the patients killed because of the disease, they may be successful in bringing a wrongful death suit against and in recovering money for their loss and damages.

Source: ABC News, "Fungal Meningitis Cases Number Almost 200," Katie Moisse, Dan Childs and Sydney Lupkin, Oct. 13, 2012

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