CDC Warns About Risk of Rehospitalization, Death from Vaping

In the latest update on the e-cigarette lung injury outbreak that has sickened thousands of people across the country, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging healthcare professionals to monitor patients who present with vaping lung injuries more closely, including after hospital discharge, as these patients may be prone to relapses, possibly resulting in rehospitalization or death. There have been more than 2,500 reports of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), including more than 50 deaths, and the manufacturers of e-cigarette devices face a growing number of lawsuits filed by plaintiffs who allege that vaping led to addiction, serious lung disease or another major side effect. If you or someone you love has suffered a serious lung injury or another problem allegedly caused by vaping, do not hesitate to seek legal help. Contact a knowledgeable e-cigarette injury lawyer today to explore your possible compensation options.

E-Cigarette Product Use-Associated Lung Injury

In the latest update from the CDC regarding the nationwide outbreak of lung injuries associated with e-cigarette use, the agency reports that there are a total of 2,506 confirmed cases of vaping-related lung injuries reported in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including at least 54 deaths. The outbreak began in June 2019 and has been declining since a peak in September, as more information has come to light about the potential for e-cigarette use to cause serious lung injury. However, while emergency department visits associated with EVALI have declined, the CDC reports that they have not returned to levels before June 2019 and EVALI therefore remains a concern.

According to the CDC’s most recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which detailed case reports involving patients affected by the outbreak of EVALI through October 31, 2019, approximately 3% of patients who experienced lung illnesses were readmitted to the hospital and seven people died after being discharged from the hospital. Compared to other EVALI patients, the CDC found that rehospitalized patients and patients who died after being discharged from the hospital were more likely to be older and have one or more chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and chronic pulmonary disease. Furthermore, at least 25% of the rehospitalizations and deaths occurred within just two days after hospital discharge.

In its Morbidity and Mortality report, published on December 20, the CDC suggests that “Characterizing EVALI patients who experience rehospitalization or death after hospital discharge might identify risk factors for higher morbidity and mortality.” The agency is calling for healthcare providers dealing with vaping-related lung illnesses to focus their attention on intensive discharge planning, optimized case management, ensuring clinical stability before discharge and conducting follow-up optimally within 48 hours, to minimize the risk of EVALI patients experiencing rehospitalization or death.

E-Cigarette Lung Injury Outbreak

The risk of lung injury associated with e-cigarette use first came to light in early August, when health officials in Wisconsin and Illinois identified several similar cases of severe lung injury, where e-cigarette use was the only common factor. In the months that followed, more than 2,000 additional cases of similar lung injuries sustained by e-cigarette users were reported by health officials across the country who either treated EVALI cases or realized they had treated EVALI cases without being aware of the connection to vaping.

E-Cigarette Use on the Rise

In addition to the potential risk of lung injuries from vaping, e-cigarettes have faced increased scrutiny lately for contributing to the growing problem of nicotine addiction among teens and youth. E-cigarettes have become the most popular method of tobacco use among teenagers in the United States. From 2011 to 2015, e-cigarette use increased 900% and in 2019, an estimated 27.5% of high school students reported current use of e-cigarettes. Not only do e-cigarettes pose a potential risk of adverse health consequences themselves, but research shows that many users of e-cigarettes also smoke traditional cigarettes, which compounds the risk of side effects. According to a 2018 study analyzing the risk of cardiopulmonary symptoms linked to cigarette and e-cigarette dual use, dual users were more likely to report greater breathing difficulty and lower general health scores.

JUUL Accused of Illegal Marketing Practices

Many people, teens in particular, start using e-cigarettes because they think they are safer than traditional combustible cigarettes. The manufacturers of e-cigarettes have perpetuated that belief by aggressively marketing their products to teens and prior nonsmokers and making false claims about their safety. In September 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a warning letter to the makers of JUUL e-cigarettes indicating that a JUUL representative had, in speaking to students at a school presentation, stated that JUUL “was much safer than cigarettes” and that “FDA would approve it any day.” What many e-cigarette users don’t realize is that many vape products contain a higher concentration of nicotine than traditional tobacco products, which can make them more addictive and harmful to their health.