Tennessee's Chief Medical Officer learns from meningitis outbreak

Tennessee's Chief Medical Officer learns from meningitis outbreak
Chief Medical Officer David Reagan
Chief Medical Officer David Reagan

(WMC-TV) - Tennessee has one of the highest rates of the meningitis outbreak with 75 sickened and 11 people killed from it, now state leaders are talking about the lessons from it.

"They call it the practice of medicine for a good reason," said Chief Medical Officer David Reagan.

Dr. David Reagan is one of state's top medical experts, he helps lead the team of more than 100 people continuing to track the fungal meningitis outbreak.

The outbreak was sparked by tainted drugs from a Massachusetts pharmacy and those drugs wound up at three pain clinics in the state.

Initially the state did not want clinic staffs to mention meningitis in patient follow-ups and now
Reagan admitted that wasn't the best plan.

"We wanted it to be a broad question and I still think that was the most appropriate type of question, but maybe the context around which that question was presented was what I would change," said Reagan.

Still the state's early action and communication likely saved lives, and that seems the goal for the future.

"We're always just keeping our eyes open and our ears open," said Reagan.

State health leaders will examine rules again for compound pharmacies in Tennessee hoping to make the best of a terrible situation.

"These are opportunities that you hate to waste to ask yourself, 'Can we do this better?'" said Reagan.

"And yes, I think there are some practical things that can be done to try to help that," he said.

Tennessee will check out best practices in other states.

The government launched the Food and Drug administration after a deadly outbreak in the 1930s.

Throughout history health crises seem to influence policy changes.

It's important to note no one in West Tennessee, Mississippi or Arkansas has been sickened by the fungal meningitis outbreak.

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