Less than 1% of people who have heart surgery with a Stockert 3T Heater-Cooler machine develop infections with M. chimaera, but 50% of infections are deadly. Lawsuits accuse Stockert of shipping heater-coolers to the U.S. that were contaminated with M. chimaera in Germany.
Need a Texas Stockert M. Chimaera 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 an M. chimaera infection from a heater-cooler unit, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit.
What is M. Chimaera?
Mycobacterium chimaera (M. chimaera) is a type of bacteria. It belongs to a group of bacteria called Non-Tuberculosis Mycobacteria (NTM) that are commonly found in water, soil and the environment. M. chimaera does not usually cause infections in people. When infections do occur, it is primarily in people with weak immune systems — or people who were infected with M. chimaera in surgery.
What is Mycobacterium Avium Complex?
Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) is a serious infection that is caused by M. chimaera and other types of NTM bacteria. M. chimaera was distinguished as a new species of NTM bacteria in 2004 and only recently identified as a potential cause of MAC. Healthy people can also be infected, but MAC is primarily a lung disease in people with vulnerable immune systems or cystic fibrosis.
M. Chimaera Heater-Cooler Infections
M. chimaera can grow in the water tank inside heater-cooler units. Although water in the heater-cooler unit does not directly come into contact with a patient’s blood or body fluids during surgery, water vapor from the heater-cooler unit’s exhaust vents can spray M. chimaera into the air and land on a patient in open-heart surgery.
What Causes M. Chimaera Infections?
Heater-cooler units that are used in the operating room during open-heart surgeries may be contaminated with M. chimaera. Patients who are exposed to these heater-coolers units can develop infections with M. chimaera that do not appear for months after the surgery. Outbreaks of M. chimaera infections were first linked to the Stockert 3T Heater-Cooler in Switzerland in 2012.
Treatment for M. Chimaera Infections
Treatment for M. chimaera infections requires the long-term use of several powerful antibiotic medications for 18 months or more. Blindness and deafness are side effects of the antibiotics that treat M. chimaera. Furthermore, heart valve patients who develop infections after cardiac surgery may require further surgery. Left untreated, M. chimaera infections can cause disability or death.
Symptoms of M. Chimaera Infections
M. chimaera is a slow-growing bacteria and it can take up to 6 years for symptoms of an infection to develop. The most common symptoms reported by patients with this infection following open-heart surgery are persistent fevers, shortness of breath, and weight-loss.
Other signs and symptoms of a M. chimaera infection include:
- Persistent cough (or coughing up blood)
- Night sweats
- Muscle pain
- Abdominal pain
- Redness,heat, or pus at the surgical site
- Joint pain
Heater-Coolers Shipped to U.S. With M. Chimaera
Stockert 3T Heater-Cooler Systems have tested positive for M. chimaera. There is evidence that the machines were contaminated with M. chimaera from the water at the manufacturing facility in Germany before they were shipped to hospitals in the United States.
How Common is M. Chimaera in Heater-Coolers?
Studies suggest that nearly all open-heart surgery patients in the last decade were likely exposed to M. chimaera bacterial infections from the Stockert 3T and other heater-coolers in the operating room.
For example, researchers discovered M. chimaera in 14 out of 16 of the Stockert 3T Heater-Coolers that were collected from 5 cardiac surgery departments in Denmark in a study published in March 2017. According to the study:
“We find it likely that most Sorin 3T Heater-Cooler Units made in the past 8-10 years potentially are contaminated by the same M. chimaera strain. In addition, because 80% of the Maquet Heater-Cooler Units also contained M. chimaera … we suggest mycobacterial contamination might be a general problem for Heater-Cooler Units.”
Risk of Exposure Dates Back to 2006
The Stockert 3T has been sold in the U.S. since 2006 and it was used at 60% of hospitals that performed open-heart surgeries, or roughly 150,000 patients per year. Over 100 patients have been diagnosed with M. chimaera after cardiac surgery, but most of the infections are associated with heart valve implants or replacements.
Need a Stockert M. Chimaera 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 Stockert M. Chimaera lawyers for a free lawsuit review.