Anesthesiologist speaks out about meningitis outbreak

9:41 PM, Oct 8, 2012   |    comments
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An East Tennessee anesthesiologist said worrisome patients have been flooding his phone banks, questioning if they have a rare and deadly meningitis strain.

"It's catastrophic, and it's something that our entire specialty nationwide has been looking at very closely," Pain Consultants of East Tennessee Doctor James Choo said.

More than 100 cases have been confirmed in the U.S., and eight  people died from the disease since the discovery. The majority of cases have been in Tennessee.

The New England Compounding Center, the source of the strain, halted its distributions and recalled all medications after discovering the contamination.

"This is definitely the largest epidemic in our specialty," the Knoxville anesthesiologist added.

Dr. Choo has been answering the many questions patients want answered about the safety of using epidural injections. He said while his clinic, Pain Consultants of East Tennessee, did not have any vials from NECC, he explained why people used this form of steroids.

"Usually the steroid injections are usually for people with chronic neck pain or chronic low back pain," Dr. Choo said.

He also answered many inquiries about how the injection affects pregnant women.

"Pregnant women are safe. Pregnant women do not receive steroids during their procedures," he said.

Dr. Choo does recommend people contact their provider if they take epidural injections to relieve pain to ensure they received safe medication

"I can't fathom how many folks will be affected by this problem," he said.

Dr. Choo answered several more questions, and his responses are available in this web exclusive interview.

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