A local hospital in Pennsylvania, WellSpan York Hospital, recently released a statement announcing that any patient who underwent open-heart surgery at the facility between October 1, 2011 and July 24, 2015 may be vulnerable for a bacterial infection. Furthermore, it is believed that the infection has—to date—contributed to the death of at least four patients. The bacterial infection from which some patients are suffering is known as nontuberculosis mycobacterium, and is believed to have spread due to the use of heater-cooler devices. If you have undergone open-heart surgery at WellSpan York from 2011 onwards, you may be able to file a medical malpractice suit for damages. Call an attorney near you now to learn more.
How Does the Heater-Cooler Device Spread Infection?
According to reports, the spread of the infections are likely linked to heater-cooler devices that are used during open-heart surgeries. These devices help to keep a patient warm or cool, regulating patients’ body temperatures (which often drop during surgeries). The devices work in one of two ways: they either include tanks of water for external heating, or they use warming/cooling blankets through closed circuits.
The hospital believes that the infection has been spread through the heater-cooler devices’ water components. It is thought that the water became contaminated with the bacteria, and that the bacteria were then transmitted through the air.
What Are the Symptoms of Nontuberculosis Mycobacterium?
Nontuberculosis mycobacterium, or NTM, is a serious infection that can cause death in the most severe of cases. The organism is naturally occurring in the soil and water, but can infect the airways and lung tissue, leading to severe complications. According to the American Lung Association, the symptoms of NTM include:
- Consistent coughing that will not go away;
- Coughing up blood;
- Shortness of breath, especially when active;
- Lethargy and fatigue;
- Weight loss; and
- Night sweats.
Those who have a weakened immune system or who are of an older age are more likely to contract—and suffer serious complications from—a nontuberculosis mycobacterium infection. Most patients who are undergoing open-heart surgery meet both of these criteria, making them easy victims for the infection.
Did You Undergo Open-heart Surgery at WellSpan York After 2011? If So, Take Action!
If you underwent open-heart surgery at WellSpan York in York, Pennsylvania during the dates mentioned above any have any of the symptoms of a nontuberculosis mycobacterium infection, you need to meet with a physician immediately. If you have contracted the bacteria, professional monitoring and care can be key in preventing more severe health complications.
In addition to scheduling an appointment with your primary care physician as soon as possible, if you have in fact contracted NTM, you should call an experienced Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney for a free initial consultation. The attorneys at The Colleran Firm can provide you with more information about what your rights are for recovering compensation, what filing a medical malpractice claim requires, and the types of damages that you may be able to recover in a civil suit. If you have contracted a preventable infection due to hospital or surgical negligence, we are here for you. Contact us today at 215-972-8000.