July 13, 2016 — Two lawsuits have been filed against York Hospital in Pennsylvania and the manufacturer of a heater-cooler device after it was linked to an outbreak of severe bacterial infections.
In October 2015, York Hospital sent letters to about 1,3000 people who had open-heart surgery between October 1, 2011 and July 24, 2015, warning that they could have been exposed to bacteria. There have been 10 confirmed cases of infections at the hospital.
The Sorin 3T Heater-Cooler System made by LivaNova is used to regulate the temperature of patients who are undergoing open heart surgery. The problem is that bacteria can escape from the exhaust vents and blow onto a patient.
On June 1, the FDA issued warnings about infections with M. chimaera, which is a type of nontuberculous mycobacterium (NTM) that may cause serious illness or death.
One of the victims was David Inners, 62, who underwent open-heart surgery and aortic valve replacement in December 2014. He contracted an NTM infection and endured months of fever and fatigue. About 11 months after operation, he developed kidney failure and congestive heart failure and died.
The other victim is Vincent Karst, 54, a man who had open-heart surgery in March 2015. He started feeling unwell and was eventually diagnosed with an NTM infection. He is seeking compensation for his chronic illness, severe pain and suffering, and lost income.
In February 2016, two men filed a $5 million federal lawsuit after they were exposed to bacteria after undergoing heart surgery at York Hospital.
Infections with NTM can usually be treated successfully when they are properly diagnosed. However, NTM is a slow-growing bacteria and it can take up to 4 years before it develops into an infection. When symptoms do appear, they may include fever, pain, fatigue, night sweats, and inflammation around the surgical incision.
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