Missouri man dies after controversial vitamin IV infusion

Missouri Man Dies After Controversial Vitamin IV Infusion, Sparks Questions About Safety

The death of a 64-year-old Missouri man after he received a vitamin IV infusion is sparking questions about the safety of the practice.

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The man, who the Kansas City Star is not naming, received a vitamin infusion on Nov. 30, 2018 from Element Wellness Spa Studio. It was the 12th such infusion he had received in three months, but this time was different, the Star reported.

The man “felt like his skin was crawling” and he started vomiting, according to the Star. The IV was stopped and he went home, where the vomiting continued and he developed a fever that reached 103 degrees.The next morning, he went to the University of Kansas Hospital with symptoms of organ failure, the Star reported.

Three days later, the man died.

The man’s autopsy report lists his cause of death as “organ failure due mainly to cirrhosis of the liver, with contributing factors of high blood pressure and obesity.” It questions whether the man should have been given an IV in the first place.

“It is important to assess the overall health of individuals seeking intravenous vitamin infusion therapy, including laboratory studies to assess kidney and liver function prior to the initiation of therapy,” the report said.

The autopsy said that extensive blood tests performed for bacterial, viral and fungal infections came back negative. However, Stanley Goldfarb, a kidney specialist at the University of Pennsylvania hospital and critic of the elective IV industry, said an infection couldn’t have been ruled out unless the IV was examined -- and the IVs used on the man were thrown away.

“It certainly sounds like something happened in the infusion,” Goldfarb said. “Unless the authorities obtained some cultures or chemical analysis of what was infused, it is impossible to know for sure. Toxins can be in the infused material, even bacteria, and not show up on culture or assessment of the patient.”

Wellness spas aren’t among facilities regulated by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, according to department director Randall Williams. But since the man’s death, Williams said those regulations may be updated.

Elective infusions of vitamins began in Las Vegas and have gained popularity in recent years, the Star reported. The medical establishment is skeptical of the treatment, saying most people get vitamins they need by mouth, and that there are risks every time a needle is inserted into someone’s bloodstream, according to The Star.