Negligence Will Determine the Success or Failure of the Meningitis Lawsuits Against Doctors and Clinics
The victims and survivors of the meningitis outbreak are now filing lawsuits against the physicians and clinics that administered the tainted steroids. According to an article in The Tennessean, on January 29, 2013, a husband who lost his wife to fungal meningitis filed the first lawsuit against a Nashville outpatient clinic. It’s believed hundreds of people were injected at the same clinic with the tainted steroids. The man is now seeking $12.5 million in damages.
This lawsuit is just one in what is expected to be a series of lawsuits, in not just Tennessee, but across the country.
Compounding Pharmacy Allegedly Behind the Meningitis Outbreak is Out of Business.
The meningitis outbreak was at a peak in the fall of 2012. Contaminated steroid injections were allegedly made at the New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Massachusetts. NECC is accused of shipping thousands of vials of tainted drugs across the country. There are allegedly 45 deaths nationwide from the steroids. The company shut down in October 2012, and filed for bankruptcy in December, according to an article in American Medical News.
Tennessee Complaint Alleges Outpatient Clinic Put Money Before Patients.
The man suing the Nashville outpatient clinic believes, among other things, that officials at the clinic put the company’s bottom line before patient care. The lawsuit specifically alleges:
1. The outpatient clinic ignored important information when it chose NECC to purchase thousands of vials of steroids,
2. That clinic officials failed to properly notify the victim that she had been injected with a potentially contaminated steroid,
3. That clinic officials failed to recommend the victim should receive treatment,
4. The clinic chose to purchase drugs from NECC because it was a cheaper than the safer alternatives.
The Responsibility of Doctors and Clinics.
Negligence is the most common claim used against doctors in cases of defective medication. The assumption is that the physician breached the standard of care because he or she knew or should have known that NECC was not meeting applicable standards in compounding the medications. Another legal theory is that the physician should have known that certain medications should not have been compounded, but rather obtained directly from a manufacturer. I believe the liability of physicians and clinics might be established to the extent that the physicians were aware that the steroids distributed by NECC violated regulations on compounding prescription medications.
It’s imperative physicians and clinics are sure of the credentials of all vendors and suppliers.
I was recently quoted in an American Medical News article about physicians and clinics that are entangled in tainted drugs lawsuits. To read the entire article, click here.
Florida Compounding Pharmacy No Stranger to Fungal Outbreaks.
Florida has seen its share of fungal outbreaks. I previously blogged about the problems encountered by Franck’s pharmacy in Ocala, Florida. It was accused of distributing eye medications that contained a fungal infection. Click here for the first blog and here for the second blog.
Pharmacists Need to Obtain Good Professional Liability Insurance.
Many pharmacists, especially those who work for state agencies, large hospitals, pharmacy chains or other large institutions, scrimp on their purchase of professional liability insurance. Many mistakenly believe their employer will cover any legal defense expenses. This is not true and is often found out too late.
A pharmacist should always carry his/her own professional negligence insurance. It is inexpensive and can cover many types of legal actions other than just civil negligence cases. Always, always, always be sure your insurance includes at least $25,000 in professional license defense coverage. Get this in writing!
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.
The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits. The firm’s attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.
To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
What do you think about the lawsuits against these doctors and clinics? Who do you think should be help responsible: the compounding pharmacy that shipped the contaminated steroids, or the doctors and clinics that administered the steroid shots? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.
Roche Jr., Walter. “Meningitis Outbreak: Victim’s Husband Sues Saint Thomas Clinic.” The Tennessean. (January 31, 2013). From: http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013301300211&nclick_check=1
Wayne A. Reed v. Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center. Case Number 13C-417. Complaint. (January 29, 2013). From: http://www.thehealthlawfirm.com/uploads/Reed%20v.%20St.%20Thomas%20Outpatient.pdf
Gallegos, Alicia. “Physicians Entangled in Tainted Drugs Lawsuits.” American Medical News. (February 11, 2013). From: http://www.thehealthlawfirm.com/uploads/AMN_PhysicianLawsuits.PDF
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620
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