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A Lincoln County man has sued Arkansas Cancer Institute, saying he was sickened in a bacterial outbreak that affected dozens of patients this year.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Jefferson County Circuit Court, attorney Gary Green said his client was diagnosed with an infection traced to FVL-2018-32, the previously unknown bacteria that was identified during the incident.

The client, Steven Edwards, had undergone a "lengthy hospital stay," the filing said.

Edwards, who was an Arkansas Cancer Institute patient, had his chemotherapy port cleaned using the saline flush process that hospital officials linked to the outbreak, according to court documents. Ports are devices implanted in the body, often in the chest, that help deliver medicine to the bloodstream.

The lawsuit alleges negligence on the part of the hospital in the areas of sanitation, education and training; departure from the standard of care; and failure to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and manufacturer protocols.

Edwards is seeking compensation for medical expenses and economic losses incurred as a result of the incident, plus damages for pain, suffering and emotional stress.

In a phone interview, Arkansas Cancer Institute administrator Michael Legate said the organization is familiar with the filing, and that this is the first lawsuit he is aware of associated with the outbreak.

"We would like to encourage all of our patients to reach out to us first, should they feel that they need to seek any counsel," he said. "We still very much care for them and their families, and we want to do everything we can to ensure that they have the highest quality of life possible."

Green didn't immediately return a message requesting comment, and a phone number for Edwards could not be located.

A revised estimate from the Arkansas Department of Health found that 51 people were affected by the outbreak, a spokesman said Wednesday.

During the episode, Arkansas Cancer Institute was investigated by health department officials who identified some areas that had been "vulnerable to infection," state epidemiologist Dr. Dirk Haselow said at the time.

He said the department did not consider the bacteria a risk to the public or to newly seen patients at the Pine Bluff treatment center.

Metro on 12/06/2018

Print Headline: Patient sues Arkansas Cancer Institute over infection

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