Twelve patients and nine of their spouses have filed a lawsuit against WellSpan York hospital in Pennsylvania for alleged exposing them to a severe bacterial infection when they used heater-cooler machines during open-heart surgery.
Free Confidential Lawsuit Evaluation: If you suffered an infection or other injury after undergoing surgery in which a heater-cooler device was used, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit against the manufacturer and our lawyers can help.
What’s the Problem?
January 24, 2017 – The lawsuit alleges that WellSpan York Hospital failed in its responsibility of “patient safety supervision,” and that it had a legal obligation to:
- Ensure the maintenance of safe and adequate facilities and equipment;
- Select and maintain only competent physicians;
- Oversee all persons who practice medicine within its walls, and
- Formulate, adopt and enforce adequate rules and policies to ensure quality care for patients.
In October 2015, WellSpan warned about 1,300 patients who underwent open-heart surgery there within the previous 4 years they may have be at risk of developing a life-threatening nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infection. The infections may have contributed to the deaths of 4 patients, according to CBS News.
Hospital staff were alerted to the problem when a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases in July 2015 found a previously unknown risk of infection — aerosolized NTM bacteria escaping from heater-coolers used during open-heart surgery — which may have contributed to the deaths of 6 heart surgery patients in Europe.
“Based on our joint investigation, the CDC determined that the NTM infections identified in our patients are likely linked to the heater-cooler devices, paralleling the findings of the European study,” said Dr. R. Hal Baker, WellSpan Health’s senior vice president for clinical improvement.
Since WellSpan’s announcement, at least 5 lawsuits have been filed against the facility by patients who allegedly developed heart surgery infections. All of the complaints include LivaNova, manufacturer of the heater-cooler device, as a defendant.
Four of the plaintiffs in the most recent lawsuit had open-heart surgery after WellSpan received an alert regarding the risk of infection with heater-cooler devices in August 2014. The other patients’ surgeries were performed between July 2012 and July 2014, according to the complaint.
While the plaintiffs have not been diagnosed with NTM infection, the lawsuit states how each has developed symptoms of the infection, including night sweats, fatigue and weight loss. Each plaintiff is seeking damages “exceeding the mandatory arbitration amount in Pennsylvania,” which means over $50,000.
Do I Have a Heater-Cooler Lawsuit?
The Product Liability Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in heater-cooler lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new NTM infection cases in all 50 states.
Free Case Evaluation: Again, if you got an infection from a heater-cooler machine, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.