Hello MEDRECS friends! Springtime litigation is heating up and there is a regular need for record retrieval from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. Please take notice: Washington State L&I has been cracking down lately on their acceptance of patient signed authorizations to comply with the State RCW 51.28.070. In order to authorize the release of L&I records, the Stipulation or authorization form must specifically indicate it intends “to release Labor and Industries records” or “to release workers’ compensation records.” The Department of L&I has informed us that wording such as “any and all medical records” will compel the release of “medical records” from L&I, but not the entire L&I file.
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.