A man suffering from back pain received contaminated steroids at a Roanoke clinic and died as a result of fungal meningitis. His family has now settled for an undisclosed sum the medical malpractice lawsuit that they had filed in December 2012 and that had sought $25 million in damages.
The man had sought relief from a pinched nerve in his neck when he went to the Roanoke clinic for the steroid injection. He received the epidural injection on September 6, 2012. Shortly afterwards, he began suffering severe headaches, sensitivity to light and sound, and other serious symptoms of meningitis. He died on September 18, 2012 from fungal meningitis, after suffering several strokes.
The tainted steroid injections that the man had received were manufactured by the now infamous and bankrupt New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts that was at the center of the October 2012 large-scale meningitis outbreak in the United States that killed 64 people and seriously injured more than 750 people in 20 states.
While the bankruptcy proceeding involving the New England Compounding Center has placed lawsuits and claims against it on hold, the Virginia medical malpractice claim was allowed to move forward because the New England Compounding Center was not named as a defendant in that lawsuit (the medical facility that injected the man with the tainted steroids was the defendant). The man’s family alleged in their Virginia medical malpractice lawsuit that the man was assured that he was receiving a safe, name-brand steroid injection when in fact he received a steroid manufactured by the New England Compounding Center under unsterile conditions.
The Virginia clinic billed the man’s health insurance company for a higher-cost, FDA-approved drug manufactured by Pfizer despite having obtained and provided injectable steroids from the New England Compounding Center. Other patients’ insurance companies were also allegedly billed for the higher-priced drugs under similar circumstances.
The New England Compounding Center faces more than 3,000 medical malpractice claims involving contaminated steroid compounds that it manufactured. There are ongoing settlement discussions regarding the malpractice claims that reportedly may result in up to $108 million in settlement funds being disbursed to claimants.
The alleged misrepresentation by the Roanoke clinic that the steroid being injected into the man was a safe, brand-name medication, along with the alleged fraudulent billing sent to the man’s health insurance company for a higher-priced medication, added an additional aspect to the medical malpractice lawsuit that may have incensed the jury deciding the case — ordinary people know right from wrong and when they are given the opportunity to punish intentional wrongdoing, their sense of justice may be reflected in the amount of their verdict; people typically do the right thing under the right circumstances.
If you or a loved one were prescribed the wrong medication (a prescribing error) or the pharmacy filled your prescription with the wrong medication (a medication filling error), you should promptly contact a local medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your medication mistake claim or your pharmacy error claim for you and represent you in a drug claim, if appropriate.
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