Tennessee Woman Sues After Contracting Fungal Meningitis from Steroid Injection
Joan M. Peay of Nashville, Tenn., filed suit in U.S. District Court after she received a steroids injection that was tainted with fungal meningitis. Dr. Steven Dickerson, who is also a state senator, administered the injection. Although Dickerson is named in court papers, he is not a defendant in the case.
According to court records, Ms. Peay received an injection of methylprednisolone acetate in late September 2012. She began to experience unusual soreness, as well as severe headaches and other symptoms common in fungal meningitis. On October 1, Ms. Peay learned that the injection of steroids was contaminated. Dickerson injected at least two other patients with the steroid in August and September just prior learning about the contaminated drug. Ms. Peay was hospitalized for meningitis on October 2, 2012, and underwent treatment for several months.
Fungal meningitis is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to those experienced with a stroke. Often, when patients have stroke symptoms, doctors do not check for an infection. In addition, because it is difficult to grow cultures from spinal fluid, doctors often have difficulty making diagnosis as well. Fungal meningitis is not contagious, like other forms of meningitis. Dr. April Pettit, a infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University, discovered the outbreak when lab tests revealed that a sample of spinal fluid taken from one of her patients showed evidence of a fungus. His family informed her that the only unusual activity for him over the past few weeks was a steroid injection to relieve back pain, which is a common treatment.
Dr. Pettit's discovery led to a nationwide recall of the steroid prepared by one compounding pharmacy. Although Tennessee health officials have not released lot numbers or named the pharmacy, the Centers for Disease Control say that all of the lots in question had been recalled and that the pharmacy was no longer producing the medication until the cause of the contamination could be discovered.
Ms. Peay was one of several patients to file a lawsuit regarding the meningitis outbreak as the deadline to file looms. Tennessee law states that a suit must be filed within one year of the patient discovering a medical error. Sixty-four patients nationwide died due to the outbreak, and 16 of those were from Tennessee.
When medical malpractice is suspected as the cause or a contributing factor in causing injury or death, a malpractice lawsuit may be in order. Contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule a free initial consultation regarding a medical error where injuries may have been caused or worsened by a healthcare professional's mistake.