Around 60 percent of the heart bypass surgeries performed in the United States utilize the Sorin 3T Heater-Cooler device. This device helps regulate patients’ body temperatures using a closed water circuit which can cool or warm the patient to the desired body temperature. It has been discovered, however, that these devices may have exposed thousands of patients to life-threatening pathogens. The specific form of bacteria that may affect patients is often benign unless the infected person is currently recovering from a medical procedure or suffering from an auto-immune disorder.
CDC and FDA Issue Warnings Due to Bacterial Infections
Both the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration have released statements warning the public that anyone who has undergone a bypass surgery may be at risk. The Sorin 3T Heater-Cooler and similar equipment may have exposed thousands of patients to Non-Tuberculosis Mycobacterium, which has been found in the water tanks of the devices. This bacteria is slow to reproduce, so patients may not exhibit any signs of an infection until a long time has passed.
In some cases, patients did not show signs of an infection for months after undergoing their bypass procedures. It is important that you are aware of the following symptoms so that you can seek prompt medical treatment if you have recently undergone a procedure that incorporated this device.
- A long-lasting fever. This could be a low-grade fever that never goes away and has no clear explanation.
- Unexplained weight loss. Losing weight could be due to the expenditure of additional calories while the body fights an infection.
- Redness or swelling around the surgical site. If the area is hot to the touch or pus is present, seek medical attention.
- Muscle aches, which could be due to infection-related fatigue.
- Fatigue or general tiredness. This is a common sign of an infection.
Since NTM infections are often caught very late, they can have traumatic effects on victims. Some of the people who were exposed died as a result of their infections.
What Causes the Exposure to Harmful Bacteria?
Reports state that the bacteria responsible for these infections was found in the water tanks of the devices. As the water circulated, the bacteria became aerosolized and fell into the patients’ chest cavities, where it was allowed to grow inside of the body. Hundreds of thousands of people may have been exposed to this type of bacteria during their heart bypass procedures, prompting the CDC to take action.
While measures are in effect to prevent the further spread of infection, the symptoms of an NTM infection may take time to present. For this reason, the CDC has advised all heart bypass patients to monitor themselves for signs of an infection and to seek medical attention immediately if they suspect they have one.
You may be entitled to seek and recover fair compensation if you were exposed to harmful pathogens while undergoing a surgical procedure. In addition to the cost of any medical procedures needed to treat your injuries, you could collect the value of lost wages, out of pocket expenses, pain and suffering or more. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has helped thousands of clients recover the compensation they deserve for their injuries, and we are certain we can do the same for you.
We invite you to arrange a risk-free consultation with one of our award-winning Chicago based medical device defect attorneys so that we can review the details of your case and help you decide how best to proceed. If we are unable to secure the damages that you are entitled to, you will not need to pay us a thing for our services.