A common worry for hospital patients is getting an infection during their stay. Hospital acquired infections are a prevalent type of serious medical error. According to estimates, as many as 100,000 hospital patients die each year from an infection while getting treated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now warns that as many as 500,000 people in the United States who have had open-heart surgery may be at risk for succumbing to a serious infection from a device used during their procedures.
Heater-Cooler Unit Linked to NTM Infection
The device is a heater-cooler unit. It is used during complicated surgeries to circulate a patient’s blood at a given temperature. According to the CDC, 250,000 people in America each year have heart-bypass surgery in which the machine is used. About 60 percent of these surgeries use a German-made heater-cooler device, the LivaNova PLC Stöckert 3T, that the CDC warns may cause deadly infections in certain patients.
The CDC’s warning includes up to a half-million patients because it covers the last several years. Patients don’t always immediately show signs of the infection. Months can go by without any symptoms, which include muscle aches, unexplained fever, and weight loss. Therefore, doctors may not diagnosis the serious condition in time.
Unsafe Medical Device Made in Germany
Some of the German devices may be contaminated with the bacteria known as nontuberculous mycobacterium (NTM). U.S. health officials believe the devices were contaminated during manufacturing.
For patients who are in a weakened condition – such as those who underwent open-heart surgery – the bacteria can cause serious, even fatal consequences. To date, 28 U.S. cases of NTM infection linked to this particular heater-cooler unit have been documented.
Healthcare providers and hospitals have been alerted. The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees the nation’s medical devices, recommend that surgical staffs tell patients of this danger and the infection symptoms, as well as closely monitor at-risk individuals.
Companies that manufacture unsafe medical devices, and hospitals and doctors that knowingly use them, put patients at needless peril, as this new warning exemplifies.
If you suspect an error in hospital treatment caused the death of a loved one or serious injury to yourself, consult an experienced medical malpractice attorney, who will pursue the answers and justice to which you are entitled.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.