Salmonella Outbreak – Medical Records Needed

Whoa, that pesky salmonella.  Striking again.  This time the harmful strain can be attributed to conditions at a Foster Farms poultry plant in California.

Salmonella is a thorn in the chicken industry’s side: the salmonella bacteria is actually quite common in the poultry industry and can be detected in most chickens, often from birth.  Since the salmonella bacteria can be killed through cooking, government officials allow some levels of the contaminant to be present in poultry factories.  The largest concern over the recent outbreak, however, is the particular strain of salmonella: Salmonella Heidelberg.  Salmonella Heidelberg has become resistant to some common antibiotics and over 40% of the recent illnesses have resulted in hospitalizations, twice the normal rate associated with most salmonella outbreaks.

Currently, 362 people have reportedly been infected across 21 states.  No deaths have been reported.  Recalls have been issued at several grocery store chains, including the Costco in San Francisco, CA.  Nevertheless, the salmonella tainted chicken may still be in circulation in grocery stores around the country as the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, F.S.I.S., did not actually order Foster Farms or any grocery store to recall the tainted chicken.  The current solution to the outbreak: handle your chicken carefully, and cook it well.

This is not the first salmonella outbreak, nor will it be the last.  MEDRECS is constantly monitoring the CDC and other sources for information on outbreaks and other consumer issues.  We have been intimately involved in the rapid gathering and processing of medical records for patients affected by past salmonella outbreaks related to peanut butter and other tainted food products.  The speedy retrieval and vetting of medical records is critical both to law firms and the patients they represent in order to ensure a complete understanding of the outbreak and subsequent illnesses, and to ensure impartial and transparent access to the primary evidence: the medical records.

If your law firm finds itself representing a party in a food-bourne illness matter, you can count on MEDRECS as your medical records partner. Our experience and success on large volume high-profile cases is unmatched and our turnaround time for production of records is industry best.

For any questions you have for MEDRECS, please contact us at contact@medrecs.com

Sources:

http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/heidelberg-10-13/

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/08/salmonella-chicken-outbreak/2941783/

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/oct/18/business/la-fi-foster-farms-20131019

2014 Changes to RCW 70.02.010

Interesting news flash: it looks like the transition to electronic medical records is beginning to pay off, monetarily.

Effective 07/01/2014, “reasonable fees” will be lowered to $0.65 pp for the first 30 pages and to $0.50 pp for any pages thereafter.  (note – this new rate is down from $1.04 pp for the first 30 pages, and $0.79 pp for all pages thereafter.)  Additionally, the maximum clerical fee a provider may charge will be reduced from $23.00 to $15.00.

“These amounts shall be adjusted biennially in accordance with changes in the consumer price index, all consumers, for Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan statistical area as determined by the secretary of health.”

To see the new bill, click here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2013-14/Pdf/Bills/Session%20Laws/House/1679-S.SL.pdf

MEDRECS: Mass Tort Litigation Update

In light of the recent government shutdown and partial lapse in funding for the CDC and FDA, we thought it beneficial to post a reminder about ongoing health alerts as well as  mass litigation proceedings we track.  As a premier medical record retrieval provider, MEDRECS routinely monitors food safety announcements and other warnings published by the CDC.  We often find ourselves gathering records for parties both pre-litigation and during litigation.  

One current outbreak being monitored is cyclosporiasis, a parasite that causes intestinal infections.  Public health officials allege that this parasite can be traced back to a salad mix produced by Taylor Farms de Mexico and resold in restaurants throughout the southern United States, Iowa and Nebraska.  There have been over 600 cases reported in 25 states, resulting in 45 hospitalizations.  Fortunately, no deaths have been reported.  The widespread nature of the outbreak suggests that not all cases of the parasite are related to each other or can be traced to a common source.  An investigation is ongoing.  Despite this outbreak, the CDC encourages everyone to continue eating vegetables and leafy greens as part of a healthy and balanced diet.  

At MEDRECS, we also monitor mass tort litigation proceedings.  SSRI litigation (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), connecting SSRIs to birth defects, has been ongoing for several years now.  In 2010, GlaxoSmithKline, maker of the SSRI Paxil, agreed to settle over 800 lawsuits for over $1 billion.  Now, SSRI litigation appears to be heating up again.  Over the summer a new lawsuit appeared in Pennsylvania alleging a connection between birth defects and the use of the SSRI Zoloft during pregnancy.  Hundreds of similar federal cases from around the country could join the multi-district litigation which is set in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  We will be tracking the development of these cases.

When your law firm, company, or governemnt agency finds itself involved in a mass tort proceeding, you can count on MEDRECS as your medical records partner. Our experience and success on large volume high-profile cases is unmatched and our turnaround time for production of records is industry best.  We have worked for the pharamceautical industry, government, healthcare industry, and for parties to numerous food-bourne illness lawsuits, gathering thousands of medical records under strict deadlines.   

Medical record retrieval is simultaneously one of the most important and most cumbersome and confounding aspects of mass litigation. Coordinating, tracking, and managing the complex job of mass record retrieval on these cases can be quite painstaking indeed.  For this reason, law firms, insurance companies, class-action administrators, and government agencies involved in litigation greatly benefit from the outsourcing of record retrieval.

For any questions about MEDRECS or this article, please email contact@medrecs.com 

MEDRECS update on fungal meningitis outbreak

MEDRECS is monitoring the recent outbreak of fungal meningitis which has been linked to tainted lots of Methylprednisolone Acetate (PF), an injectable steroid mixed and distributed by the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts.  It appears that most of the victims received spinal injections of the steroid to treat chronic back pain, and a few victims received injections of the steroid in other joint locations. As of this writing, there are over 370 confirmed cases of fungal meningitis and 29 reported deaths across 19 states (according to the Center for Disease Control), with the largest number of cases being reported in Tennessee, Michigan, Virginia, and Indiana.

This terrible outbreak is not the first of its kind, unfortunately. We are reminded of past outbreaks of disease related to tainted food/medicine, most recently the salmonella outbreak of 2009 linked to contaminated peanut butter produced by the Peanut Corporation of America in its Georgia, Texas, and Virginia plants. That outbreak prompted one of the largest recalls of a food product in US history, sickening more than 700 and killing 9 people across 46 states. 

During the 2009 peanut butter litigation, attorneys across the country were mired in the daunting task of retrieving voluminous sets of medical and billing records within a strict time frame with very limited resources (on average, a paralegal can spend 30 hours retrieving medical and billing records for a single patient). Many of these firms turned to MEDRECS for help retrieving records. “I remember working with one attorney who had so many medical records to retrieve, her paralegal just sent us an Excel spreadsheet and we took it from there,” explains one MEDRECS account representative. Another MEDRECS team member also remembers working on the peanut butter cases: “It was satisfying to me to spend my day working on these cases, then read the latest news at night and think ‘at least I’m doing something to help.’”

Our hearts go out to the victims of this fungal meningitis outbreak. We wish a speedy recovery to those who have fallen ill, and we offer our sincere condolences to the family members who have lost loved ones.

(Infographic courtesy of Buckfire Law.)

UPDATE (November 9, 2012)

The total number of confirmed cases of fungal meningitis tied to this outbreak is now 424 with 31 deaths. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families.

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Congratulations to WDTL’s 2012 Attorneys of the Year!

On October 18th, Washington Defense Trial Lawyers (WDTL) presented its prestigious and peer selected 2012 Attorney of the Year Awards at the Seattle office of Dorsey & Whitney, LLP.  MEDRECS was there to join in the celebration and we would like to congratulate the following award recipients:

2012 Defense Attorney of the Year (co-winners):

Daniel F. Mullin, Mullin Law Group, PLLC

M. Colleen Barrett, Barrett & Worden PS

2012 Defense Associate Attorney of the Year:

Adam Rosenberg, Keating, Bucklin and McCormack, Inc., PS

2012 Plaintiff Attorney of the Year:

Steven G. Lingenbrink, Lingenbrink Law

We would like to tip our hats to these outstanding lawyers for their tenacious advocacy and commitment to the highest standards of professionalism in their practice.  These attorneys have made invaluable contributions to the legal community in the State of Washington, one of the most respected and vibrant legal communities in the nation.

From all of us here at MEDRECS, congratulations!