January 30, 2017 — Lawyers are asking judges to centralize lawsuits involving open-heart surgery patients who developed infections after being exposed to bacteria from a heater-cooler machine in the operating room.
On January 26, a petition was filed to establish a centralized Multi-District Litigation (MDL) under a single judge in South Carolina, where 10 out of 15 lawsuits are already pending.
Meanwhile, thousands of open-heart surgery patients in South Carolina have recently been notified of an infection risk related to a 3T Heater-Cooler System.
Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Health notified 3,000 patients, but did not report any infections, according to Greenville Online. Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System in South Carolina also notified 2,000 patients who were exposed.
The bacteria is M. chimaera, a type of Non-Tuberculosis Mycobacteria (NTM). Investigators believe most 3T Heater-Coolers were contaminated at a manufacturing facility in Germany.
The risk of infection is low (less than 1%) but it can be deadly. And because NTM grows so slowly, symptoms may not appear for up to six years. Patients will need to be monitored during that time.
Patients should seek medical care if they develop symptoms like night sweats, muscle aches, weight-loss, fatigue, or fever. Treatment involves 1-2 years of antibiotics.
The Stöckert 3T Heater-Cooler uses water to control the temperature of a patient’s blood during open-heart surgery. Water never touches the patient, but it can spray out of the exhaust vents. Bacteria in the water can blow in the air, land inside a patient, and cause an infection.
Do I have a Heart Surgery Infection Lawsuit?
The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting Heater-Cooler induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been diagnosed with an NTM infection, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Defective Medical Device Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
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