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Atlanta Legal Nurse Consultant Hears Benjamin Park, MD Of The CDC Discuss The Fungal Meningitis Outbreak

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Doctor Talks About Compounded Steroid Injection Fungal Meningitis


Altanta, Georgia -- Dr. Benjamin Park of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) spoke at the University of Georgia (UGA) March 18, 2013 regarding the fungal infection acquired via methylprenisolone steroid injections first reported to the CDC in September 20, 2012.

Park is the Epidemiology Team Leader for the Mycotic Disease Branch of the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the CDC. He is basically a “disease detective.” Park recalled the first call to the CDC came from a Tennessee clinician concerned about an unusual case in which the patient received a steroid epidural injection at an ambulatory surgery center. The steroid was compounded and sterile compounding has the highest risk of contamination among compounded medications.

By September 25, 2012 there were 7 additional cases from the same center identified.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) was notified by the CDC at this time. The manufacturer then issued a voluntary recall and provided a list of 76 facilities in 26 states who had received the corresponding lots of the methylprednisilone (steroid medication).

On September 26, 2012 the North Carolina Department of Health identified a meningitis of unknown etiology. On September 28, 2012 the CDC started notifying all the patients who had received the medication.

The FDA announced on October 4, 2012 that they found fungal contamination in vials of the methylprednisolone ;(steroid).

This outbreak is the largest healthcare associated outbreak reported in the United States. Almost 14,000 people had been exposed to the contaminated methylprednisolone (steroid).

Steps taken by the CDC to contain the outbreak included:
• Patient notification
• Engaged clinical expert mycologists
• Laboratory support - provided a new test within 2 days
• Communication - CDC website, media, health alerts to clinicians, blast emails and scientific publications.

As of March 4, 2013 there have been 720 patients affected and 48 deaths. As a result of the public health response the case fatalities dropped and it is likely well over 100 lives were saved.

The Washington Post and 60 Minutes have reported on the situation and compounding of medications in the last couple of months.

There are new cases still being reported on a daily basis but the numbers of cases is dropping off. The CDC will follow this outbreak “for a long time.” There are reports now that more and more patients have been cured with medical treatment.

Atlanta Legal Nurse Consultant:

Liz Buddenhagen, registered nurse and certified legal nurse consultant, assists Atlanta attorneys with the medical issues of their legal cases. For more information view website, email or call 770-725-2997.


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