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Heart Surgery Infection: 2 Patients in Quebec Diagnosed with NTM

Victor Lewin - Friday, March 17, 2017

Heater-cooler devices are commonly used during open chest surgeries and other operations to control a patient’s blood temperature through use of temperature-controlled water. The machines have been under scrutiny recently due to international reports of nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infections associated with the devices.

In previous blogs, Wagners discussed the recent concerns about infections being spread during open heart surgery. You may wish to read our earlier blog posts, Heart Surgery Infection: LivaNova Heater/Cooler Medical Device and Heart Surgery Infection: Heater/Cooler Infections Found in Canada for further information.

In late October 2016, Quebec doctors reported the discovery of two confirmed cases of NTM infection. The two patients underwent open heart surgery and contracted NTM. The infections have been linked to the use of heater-cooler devices used in operating rooms. Symptoms associated with the NTM infection include sweating at night, aching muscles, loss of weight, fatigue, and/or high fever. In more serious cases, the NTM infection can lead to the death of the patient.

The information about the two patients in Quebec was divulged at an infectious disease conference in New Orleans by a University of Montreal and Montreal Heart Institute infectious disease specialist.

It is reported that these two patients have both undergone further surgical procedures due to the presence of endocarditis, which is linked to the NTM bacterial infection. Endocarditis affects the inner lining of the heart that can lead to severe damage to heart valves if not treated. The infection can pose serious consequences and life-threatening issues for patients who have contracted endocarditis.

As reported in our earlier blogs, it appears that the Stockert Heater Cooler System 3T made by LivaNova/Sorin is the main heater-cooler device model that is under investigation for causing NTM. That particular device was recalled by Health Canada in 2015. Other manufacturers’ heater-cooler devices are also being scrutinized to determine if those machines are also causing the NTM infection.

Patients who have had open heart surgery should ensure that they attend at their family physician or a hospital if they experience any of the adverse effects listed above.

Wagners is investigating the prospects of a class action proceeding against the manufacturers of the affected heater-cooler devices.

If you or a family member reside in Canada and have had open-heart surgery, and have suffered complications from exposure to the contaminated heater/cooler device, you may wish to contact our lawyers at Wagners to discuss your situation.

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