During surgeries, heater-cooler devices are commonly used to either heat or cool patients, and is an especially important device in surgeries involving the heart, lungs, esophagus and other chest organs to increase the success of the surgery. The heater-cooler devices use a closed-water circuit to send temperature controlled air to a patient’s warming or cooling blanket to regulate a patient’s body temperature.
Infections caused by Heater-Cooler Devices
Heater-Cooler devices have been linked to causing Nontuberculous Mycrobacterium (NTM) infections in patients. The NTM has potential to grow within the heater-cooler devices and come in contact with the patients and through an open cavity or sterile equipment.
Stӧckert 3T Heater-Cooler Device
The FDA issued a safety communication regarding the Stӧckert 3T Heater-Cooler device and its association with transmitting NTM in U.S. patients who were using the device. These particular heater-cooler devices were contaminated in a German manufacturing plant and then transported to hospitals in the U.S., which have now been used on many patients nationwide. The bacteria is causing mycrobacterium chimaera in patients who used this device, which can cause infections that have a 50 percent mortality rate.
Symptoms of Mycrobacterium Chimaera
- Fever lasting more than one week
- Loss of energy
- Night sweats
- Joint or muscle pain
- Redness around a surgical incision
- Difficulty breathing
- Failure to grow or gain weight in infants
- Persistent cough
Lawsuits and the Stockert 3T Heater-Cooler Device
Patients who were exposed to the contaminated devices are seeking compensation for their pain and suffering. Cases have already been filed with many more expected and possible settlements to range from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.