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Infection Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Arkansas Cancer Clinic

At least three patients treated at the Arkansas Cancer Institute are joined in a class action lawsuit, which alleges they were each sickened by a bacterial outbreak last year that resulted from negligent behavior. 

Last week, Robert Mingo and Alice Jenkins were added to a medical malpractice lawsuit originally filed by Steven Edwards in December, which presents claims against the Arkansas Cancer Institute in Jefferson County Circuit Court.

The lawsuit stems from a bacterial outbreak at the cancer clinic in Pine Bluff in late October. More than 50 people tested positive for a bacterial infection, which had been previously unknown, and at least three people infected died, although it was unclear whether their deaths were caused by the bacterial outbreak.

Arkansas Department of Health officials say that the bacteria spread through a saline flush used on medical device ports implanted into patients to help deliver medication. The cancer clinic sent warning letters to 155 patients who had the ports used at the clinic between March 22 and September 11, warning they are considered at risk of the bacteria.

The newly discovered bacteria has been designated FVL-2018-32. It does not appear to be easily passed from person-to-person and investigators said that it was not believed to be a danger to those with healthy immune systems.

The lawsuit seeks class action status to include all patients who had ports flushed between March 22 and September 11 last year, according to a report in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette posted on January 13. The lawsuit accuses the clinic of medical malpractice, negligent behavior and deviating from standards of care, saying that the facility failed to follow infection control plans by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and failed to comply with manufacturer instructions on how to perform the saline flush.

The clinic has denied all of the allegations and has called for the lawsuit to be dismissed.

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