You may recall from our
previous blog that an outbreak of nontuberculous mycobacterium (NTM) a few weeks ago
at WellSpan York Hospital in Pennsylvania resulted in the deaths of four
patients. Now, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has announced that
more cases have been confirmed at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Approximately 2,300 patients who received open-heart surgery at this
hospital have been alerted of the possibility that they may have been
exposed to the bacteria.
In light of this information, the Health Department is urging healthcare
facilities to follow new guidelines related to the use and care of the
heater-cooler devices believed to be the culprit behind the recent onslaught
of patient infections. So far, all of the heater-cooler devices at both
hospitals have been replaced.
The heater-cooler devices, used to monitor the body temperature of patients
undergoing open-heart surgery, has been linked to the spread of the harmful
bacteria. Because the device blows air onto the patient, any contaminants
on or inside of the device due to contaminated water or improper cleaning
methods could make contact with an open wound. While NTM bacteria is usually
not harmful, it can be very dangerous to an individual whose health is
According to a Safety Communication published by the FDA, health care providers
must strictly adhere to the manufacturer’s cleaning and disinfection
standards and are urged not to use tap water to rinse, fill, or top off
water tanks. In addition, health care professionals are advised to direct
the device’s vent exhaust away from the surgical field to minimize
the risk of exposure to the patient, and to perform air, water, and environmental
sampling if contamination is suspected.
NTM is a slow-spreading bacteria, and infected patients may not show symptoms
for months or even years.
The Health Department is currently assessing the risk to patients who received
an open-heart surgery between November 5, 2011 and November 5, 2015.
Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Philadelphia
The CDC advises all open-heart surgery patients who underwent their procedures
during the above time frame to contact their doctors if they experience
any symptoms of bacterial infection:
- Muscle or joint pain
- Night sweats
- Redness, pain, heat, and/or pus around the surgical site
If you suspect that you may have contracted a hospital-acquired infection,
you may be entitled to compensation through a negligence-based medical
malpractice lawsuit. To find out if you may be eligible, please consult
with a Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer at Shrager, Spivey &
Sachs. After a thorough investigation of your case, we can help you determine
your best options for legal recourse.
We have proudly helped injured people seek justice since 1978.
request a free consultation with a member of our highly-rated team, please call our office at (888) 899-0652.