By Virginia Buchanan

November 5th, 2012  8:30am

Patients who were struck by fungal meningitis after being injected with contaminated epidural injections now face another serious health risk.   A number of patients have now been diagnosed with epidural abscess.  The abscess is an infection of the epidural space of the spine.  An untreated abscess can cause devastating illness and even death.

The medications used to treat the meningitis do not prevent epidural abscess, as the medications used to treat the meningitis treat the systemic illness, while the spinal abscess is a localized infection at the epidural space.  Some patients have even developed epidural abscess while taking the medications for meningitis, and some of those patients have had to be re-hospitalized. In severe cases, patients have had to undergo surgery to treat the abscess.  Many do not realize they have an abscess, as it is not visible on the skin, and an MRI is required to diagnose the abscess.

The Centers for Disease Control are following the reports of this serious secondary problem.  Michigan had more than 25% of the reported cases of meningitis, and, as expected, it had more reports of epidural abscess as well.  Alarmingly, about 1 in 3 of the total 53 meningitis patients treated at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan returned to the hospital with epidural abscesses.

Dr. Tom M. Chiller  of the CDC mycotic disease branch was quoted in the New York Times on Sunday as saying that the reports are coming from Michigan and other locations.  He stated “We don’t have a good handle on how many people are coming back.  We are just learning about this and trying to assess how best to manage these patients.  They’re very complicated.”

Virginia Buchanan is a shareholder at Levin, Papantonio.  She has served on the Board of Directions of the Florida Bar Foundation and has been Treasurer of ABOTA, Chairperson of the Civil Process Server Grievance Committeee and has been a member of the Chief Judge’s Council on Children. She currently is a member of the Women’s Caucus of the Florida Justice Association.
Fungal Mengitis Lawsuit