Three patients who recently had open heart surgery at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in Philadelphia have developed a rare infection linked to the use of heater-cooler devices.
Free Confidential Lawsuit Evaluation: If you suffered an infection or other injury after undergoing surgery with a heater-cooler device, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit and our lawyers can help.
What’s the Problem?
September 21, 2016 – In addition to the 3 infections, another patient at the hospital tested positive for the bacteria but did not show any symptoms of infection, according to Philly.com.
Three of the 4 patients remain under medical care at Penn Presbyterian and are “doing well,” while the 4th was treated at another hospital, according to Patrick J. Brennan, chief medical officer of the University of Pennsylvania health system. Elsewhere, similar infections have been linked to the death of patients who underwent heart surgery and other procedures with heater-coolers devices.
Heater-coolers are commonly used during cardiothoracic surgery to warm or cool a patient with tanks that transport temperature-controlled water to external heat exchangers or warming/cooling blankets through closed circuits. However, although the water does not come into direct contact with the patient, there is a potential for contaminated water to enter other parts of the device or transmit bacteria through the air via its exhaust vent and onto the patient, resulting in a life-threatening infection.
The microbes causing the infections, called nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), are typically found in soil and tap water. They pose little to no risk for healthy people, but can cause severe infection in patients who have their heart or other organs exposed during surgery.
Complicating the matter, NTM bacteria grow very slowly and may not cause any symptoms for weeks or even months, which makes identifying the source of the infection much more difficult.
Heater-Cooler Devices Linked to Legionnaires’ Disease
Physicians reported this week at the University of Washington Medical Center that an investigation found heater-cooler devices contaminated with bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia that causes symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches and confusion. The mode of transmission was not fully established until airborne transmission of Mycobacterium chimaera from heater–cooler units was reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Do I Have a Heater-Cooler Lawsuit?
The Medical Device 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 injury and death cases in all 50 states.
Free Case Evaluation: Again, if you were injured or suffered an infection from a heater-cooler device, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.