St. Elizabeth’s Hospital Warning Patients After Nationwide Meningitis Outbreak | Health
Metro East hospitals began alerting open heart and eye surgery patients Tuesday that they received medicine from a company linked to 23 fatalities caused by contaminated drugs produced in a Massachusetts drug compounding plant.
The fatalities came from fungal meningitis contracted after patients with back pain were injected with what proved to be a contaminated steroid drug from New England Compounding Company. There have been no reports of fungal meningitis infections in Metro East. Both St. Elizabeth's and Memorial Hospitals in Belleville use medicine for back pain and joint injections produced by another manufacturer.
The federal Food and Drug Administration investigation raised questions about potential contamination in NECC drugs used in eye and open heart surgeries. The latest warnings relate to those medical procedures.
St. Elizabeth's reports 26 open heart surgery patients received an NECC produced cardioplegia solution during surgeries between May 21 and October 3. Medical personnel telephoned patients Tuesday to alert them to the potential for a heart cavity infection. Letters were also sent. The hospital's chief medical officer, Dr. Shelly Harkins advised them to watch for any signs of infections for the next several months.
Memorial Hospital used NECC products for both eye and open heart surgeries. The eye surgery medicine is methylprednisolone acetate.
Both hospitals stopped using all NECC products in early October.
Symptoms to watch for in eye surgery patients: pain, usually associated with eye tenderness; redness; tearing; light sensitivity; and decreased or blurred vision.
Symptoms to watch for in heart surgery patients: low grade fever; redness at incision; drainage; pain; slow wound healing; weakness; lethargy and irritability.
Memorial Hospital vice president Dr. William Casperson praised the FDA and the CDC for quickly identifying the contaminated medication and notifying hospitals and clinics. He predicted the problems would lead to improvement in quality control at drug manufacturers.
For more information call the FDA's Division of Drug Information at 855-543-3784. On the web: www.cdc.gov/HAI/outbreaks/currentsituation/
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