RANDALL KINNARD’S legal clients had steroids injected into their backs last summer for a wide range of reasons. Of the 25, one got three shots in a two-month period when pain never totally disappeared. Another got one as a preventive measure because she was going on a trip to Europe and was worried that cobblestones would aggravate an old injury.
Now the 25 — or their survivors — have engaged Mr. Kinnard, one of Nashville’s leading lawyers, to sue the New England Compounding Center. Three have died, one is paralyzed, several more are still hospitalized and all suffer blinding headaches — victims of the meningitis that resulted from vials of steroid medicine contaminated by fungus.
The New England Compounding Center certainly seems deserving of its current status as the prime culprit in a tragic outbreak that has killed 32 and sickened 438. The bottles of supposedly sterile steroid medication it shipped were reportedly so tainted that white fuzz could be seen floating in some vials.
But, experts say, the now notorious Compounding Center has a nationwide network of unwitting enablers and accomplices: There are the doctors who overprescribe an invasive back-pain therapy that, in studies, has not proved useful for many of the patients who get it. And there are the patients, living in an increasingly medicalized society, who want a quick fix for life’s aches and pains…
The whole tragedy is playing out as a perfect storm of a lot of bad medico-economic decisions. And while the blame is being parceled out, let’s not forget the MBA-Hospital-Administration mindset where patients are both ‘clients’ whose desire for convenient low-cost medical insta-fixes must be catered to, and ‘care units’ to be processed with the maximum efficiency at the lowest possible cost — but never human beings.