Open heart surgery is a time when a patient’s health is particularly vulnerable. Operating room staff has to pay extra attention to maintaining the patient’s vital signs while procedures are taking place. Part of this process involves controlling the patient’s body temperature throughout the operation. This is accomplished by the use of heater-cooler devices. This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an alert stating that a popular model of heater-cooler device may have been contaminated by bacteria during the manufacturing process.
The Stöckert 3T heater-cooler device, which in used in 60 percent of heart bypass surgeries in the U.S., has been linked to infection from Mycobacterium chimaera, a species of nontuberculous mycobacterium found in soil and water. While Mycobacterium chimaera is not usually harmful to humans, it can be if it enters the body through an incision in the chest cavity. Symptoms of Mycobacterium chimaera infection include joint and muscle pain, long-term fever, night sweats, chronic fatigue, redness and pus around the incision, persistent cough that produces blood, nausea, and vomiting. These symptoms may not be noticeable until up to two months after a surgery.
If you or a loved one has exhibited signs of infection following heart surgery, you need to contact your physician immediately. If you have been infected through a Stöckert 3T heater-cooler device, you may be entitled to compensation from the manufacturer, LivaNova, who may have been aware of the danger of infection. For more information about your legal rights and options, call the Waco, Texas medical malpractice attorneys Williams & Brown, L.L.P. at (888) 741-6200.