It's great to see the two Belleville hospitals be proactive about the drugs they administered from the New England Compounding Center, which is linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak.
If Massachusetts had been as diligent about quality control inspections at the compounding center, these actions might not be needed.
The hospitals are notifying patients who received drugs from the compounding center as a precaution. No one has gotten sick and the drugs are not the tainted steroid linked to 304 cases of meningitis, 23 of them fatal, in 17 states. Still, they're informing their patients and therefore protecting them as opposed to trying to keep it quiet and hope no one gets ill.
The compounding center has had complaints dating back to 1998, including the shipment of medications before sterilization tests results were in. The New York Times quotes an expert as saying that the meningitis outbreak could have been preventable with the right quality controls. Now, belatedly, Massachusetts is going to start random inspections of compounding facilities.
Notifying patients in the metro-east won't prevent problems if some of the other drugs prove to be contaminated, but it would give patients a head's up to watch for signs of illness and seek medical attention in the crucial early stages.