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Family Sues Over Toxic Shock Syndrome Death

Last updated on Thursday, June 14, 2012

(INDIANAPOLIS) - A tampon company, doctors and a Columbus hospital are all being sued after the death of an Indiana woman from toxic shock syndrome.

Amy Elifritz, 20, died one year ago Wednesday from toxic shock syndrome, two days after she was admitted to the hospital with chills, fever and vomiting. The lawsuit filed alleges the hospital and five doctors "breached their duty" and were "negligent."

The doctors and hospital aren't named because Indiana malpractice law protects their identity in a lawsuit.

Elifritz' mother believes a tampon caused the toxic shock and the doctors never recognized the symptoms.

"They just kept looking at us saying, 'We don't know. We don't know what is happening. We don't know why,'" recalled Lisa Elifritz. "She got to intensive care around 1 p.m., and by 3 p.m. she was going into adult respiratory distress. She had the tell-tale rash of toxic shock syndrome."

Playtex is also being sued for liability and negligence.

Dr. Philip Tierno says the toxin builds up when a tampon is used, and changing the tampon is not enough. He said girls must use a pad at night for eight hours to allow the toxins to dissipate. Tierno, a New York doctor was one of the first to blow the whistle on the issue in the 1980s when 38 women died.

The family of Amy Elifritz is asking for a jury trial.

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