Baxter named in contaminated saline syringe lawsuit

Pharmaceutical giant Baxter International faces yet another lawsuit, this time for playing a role in the distribution of a contaminated saline syringe that was used on a woman who afterward suffered serious medical problems that may have led to her death a year later, according to the Hays Daily News.

Ralph Sell of Lincoln, Nebraska, says that his wife Alice was undergoing cancer treatments in December 2007 when a syringe contaminated with Serratia marcescens, a bacteria that can cause serious injury or death, was used on her. She suffered high blood pressure, disorientation and sepsis. She died a year later at the age of 82 of “acute respiratory failure.” It has not yet been determined if the contaminated syringe may have led to her death.

Sell filed suit against Baxter International as well as its subsidiary Baxter Healthcare Corp., B. Braun Medical Inc., and AM2 PAT Inc, also known as Sierra Prefilled. A spokesperson for Baxter says the company has no role in the lawsuit, as it does not sell prefilled saline syringes. AM2 PAT did recall saline prefilled syringes in December 2007 and January 2008 because some of the syringes were tainted with the bacteria.

Baxter currently faces numerous lawsuits stemming from a 2008 recall of the blood thinner heparin. Batches of the company’s heparin manufactured in China were found to have been contaminated with over-sulfated chondroitin sulfate (OSCS). The tainted heparin is believed to have contributed to the deaths of more than 80 Americans and caused serious illnesses in hundreds more.

Sell’s lawsuit against the companies seeks unspecified damages and payment for medical costs.