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Contaminated Devices Putting Open-Heart Surgery Patients at Risk

People who have had open heart surgery since January 1, 2012 may be at risk of potentially deadly infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a health alert notice regarding the risk of contracting non-tuberculous mycobacterium (NTM) infection from Stockert heater-cooler devices used during open-heart surgery. Testing by the manufacturer as early as 2014 indicates that these devices were contaminated at the time of manufacture with this rare mycobacteria. Stockert heater-cooler devices have been used in as many as 60% of the 250,000 open-heart procedures that have been performed annually in the United States since 2011.

NTM infections can take months and sometimes years to become symptomatic. People who have had open-heart surgery since January 1, 2012 should consult their doctors. If they are experiencing symptoms associated with infection such as night sweats, weight loss, muscle aches, fatigue, or unexplained fever, they should seek medical attention right away. While the overall risk for an open-heart surgery patient to contract this infection is likely less than 1%, patients with artificial valves or prosthetic products implanted in their hearts are at greater risk.

Mount Carmel and possibly other central Ohio health care providers began notifying patients and doctors of this potential risk late last year. If you or a loved one have received a notification, you should speak with your doctor as soon as possible.

People who have suffered serious injury or who have lost a loved one due to an infection from one of these contaminated devices may have a valid product liability or medical negligence claim for their damages. Rourke & Blumenthal is currently investigating claims for people who have been harmed in this manner.