Dozens of open-heart surgery patients have developed life-threatening Mycobacterial infections due to 3T Heater-Coolers, a machine that can blow bacteria into the air during surgery.
Need a Texas Mycobacterial Infection Lawyer? Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged. If you or a loved one was diagnosed with M. chimaera from a 3T Heater-Cooler, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit.
Non-Tuberculosis Mycobacteria (NTM) is a common type of bacteria that is naturally found in dirt and water. NTM infections are rare in healthy people, and typically only occur in people who are hospitalized with chronic diseases, or patients who have had open-heart surgery.
What is M. Chimaera?
Mycobacteria chimaera is a type of NTM that grows slowly and can take up to 6 years to cause symptoms of an infection. It has been associated with chronic lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients on ventilators. Hospitals around the world have also reported outbreaks of infective endocarditis.
What is a Heater-Cooler Unit?
The Sorin Stockert 3T Heater-Cooler System is a machine that is used in 60% of hospitals that perform open-heart surgeries in the United States, or around 150,000 patients per year, and it has been sold since 2006.
Transmission of Mycobacterial Infections
Heater-coolers use water to control the temperature of the blood of a patient who is anesthetized during long surgeries. Water does not touch the patient, but it sprays out of the unit’s exhaust vents into the air — as well as bacteria in the water of a contaminated heater-cooler.
Complications of NTM Infection
- Wound infection
- Heart valve infections
- Bloodstream infection
- Blood clots
Heater-Coolers and Mycobacterial Infections
The problem is that many heater-cooler machines were contaminated with Mycobacteria chimaera, a type of NTM — and the evidence “strongly suggests” a single source of contamination at the 3T manufacturing facility in Germany.
Heart Surgery Infections
Mycobacteria blowing out of the exhaust vents from a 3T Heater-Cooler can land deep inside a patient undergoing open-heart surgery. The risk of infection is highest for valve replacements and other prosthetic implants inside the heart, such as vascular grafts or a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD).
What is the Risk?
The risk of infection is less than 1% for people who were exposed. Tens of thousands of patients who had open-heart surgery were notified of exposure in 2015 and 2016, but only around 50 infections have been reported. Even so, these patients must be monitored for up to 6 years, so it is likely that the number of infections will increase.
Symptoms of Mycobacterial Infections
- Fever (persistent, recurrent, or unexplained)
- Difficulty breathing
- Pain (muscle, joint, abdominal)
- Shortness of breath
- Joint or muscle pains
- Nausea, vomiting
- Night sweats
- Heat, redness, or pus at surgical site
Diagnosis of Mycobacterium Chimaera
M. chimaera infections are hard to diagnose. Symptoms are vague and there is no test for M. chimaera. Instead, diagnosis requires special lab tests that can sequence bacterial DNA.
Treatment for M. Chimaera Infection
Treatment involves 1 or 2 years of antibiotics, due to the slow-growing nature of Mycobacteria. The early symptoms of M. chimera infections are vague and often take months or years to develop, which often delays diagnosis and makes the infection harder to treat.
Need a Mycobacterial Infection Lawyer in Texas?
Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged.
Collen’s amazing success in the courtroom and well known dedication to his clients has earned him the recognition of his peers as one of The Top Trial Lawyers in Texas.”
The Clark Firm has assembled a team of trial lawyers with more than 100 years experience, participation in over 600 jury trials and $260 million in verdicts and/or settlements. Please use the form below to contact our Texas Mycobacterial infection lawyers for a free lawsuit review.