Symptoms of a Nontuberculous Mycobacteria Lung Infection
Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) may be harmless to most people, but can be deadly for those whose...READ MORE
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a warning to patients and health care providers regarding heater-cooler devices used during open-heart surgery. The CDC warned that anyone who underwent this procedure should be aware they are at risk for developing a severe – possibly life-threatening – infection.
The CDC warning pertains to nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), which has been found in the Stockert 3T heater-cooler device manufactured by the German company LivaNova. The device, which is somewhat similar in appearance to a portable air conditioner, is designed to help the body maintain a safe temperature during an invasive surgical procedure.
The device stores water in tanks in order to help regulate a patient’s body temperature. However, plaintiffs in heater-cooler device lawsuits allege that this water can be contaminated with NTM and then spread throughout an operating room. If this contaminated water enters a patient’s chest during a surgery, an NTM infection can occur.
People exposed to NTM typically suffer no ill effects. But when someone who has a compromised immune system – such as an open-heart surgery patient – is exposed to the bacteria, the resulting infection can be fatal. According to the CDC, patients in hospitals where NTM infections have been identified have between a 1-in-100 to 1-in-1,000 chance of developing an infection themselves.