The tragedy of deaths caused by the contaminated steroid vials is especially sad when one considers that in many cases, spinal injections may offer no benefit.
The New York Times article, “How Back Pain Turned Deadly,” addresses the October meningitis outbreak and the 25 victims who are now suing the New England Compounding Center for injury, illness, and deaths caused by the spinal injections.
“Studies are at best inconclusive about exactly which groups of back-pain patients are likely to benefit from steroid shots. Though some patients clearly get much-needed relief, health researchers are nearly unanimous that the treatment is vastly overused in the United States.
But Dr. Laxmaiah Manchikanti, head of the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, said the increasing number of spine injections was just part of ‘an exponential increase in all interventional techniques’ and is a good thing, reflecting a better understanding of chronic pain and patients’ demands for improved pain relief.”
The statement by Dr. Manchikanti would appear to contradict academic researchers and such statements are commonly made by advocates of a particular point of view, citing a ‘better understanding of chronic pain and patients’ demands for improved pain relief. This sort of uncritical thinking or statement can be made by any of the many proponents for increased use of narcotics such as Oxycontin, which we have covered in our blog.
“Though doctors are still arguing, most academic researchers say there is no evidence that steroid injections are useful in easing straightforward chronic low back pain. Professional guidelines say such shots should generally not be used for back pain that is less than four to six weeks old, which studies show almost always gets better with noninvasive treatments. Although many Medicare patients get spinal injections to treat a condition called spinal stenosis, a narrowing of spaces between bones of the spine, Dr. Friedly said, shots are not used for that condition in many European countries.” Read More…
If one wants to do good, one must first ensure that one is doing no harm. Steroid injections to the spine and narcotics for chronic pain would not appear in many cases to meet this standard.
How many of the deaths and the sick stood to gain from the treatments they received? How many facilities and practitioners, as well as the pharmacy did just fine until people started dying?