What is a Stockert 3T Heater-Cooler System? When a patient is under anesthesia during surgery, it is important to regulate body temperature to keep the patient comfortable and safe, and to improve the outcome of the surgery. Heater-cooler devices do this through the use of temperature controlled blankets which can alternately warm and cool the patient’s body. Unfortunately, these devices have recently been linked to life-threatening infections, especially during cardiothoracic surgeries.
Multiple lawsuits against LivaNova PLC, the manufacturer of Stockert 3T Heater-Cooler Systems, claim that it failed to warn physicians and hospitals of the risk of infection. Studies have revealed that the device is capable of transmitting a bacterium called Mycobacterium chimaera to patients during surgeries. This bacteria can lead to a condition called nontuberculous mycobacteria infection, which can be fatal, even after years of treatment with antibiotics. A Boston defective medical device attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been harmed by a heater-cooler system.
How Do Heater-Cooler Devices Spread Infection?
To cool and warm a patient’s body, a heater-cooler device uses a water-tank system to regulate the temperature of the attached warming blanket. Research has show that when the water in these tanks becomes contaminated, bacteria may be released into the air surrounding the patient’s body through an exhaust vent. If this happens, a patient who may have a weakened immune system and open wounds due to the surgical procedure, has a highly-increased chance of contracting an infection from the bacteria.
Look Out for these Signs and Symptoms
One of the most concerning aspects of nontuberculous mycobacteria infection is that it can take several years for the infection to occur following exposure to Mycobacterium chimaera. If you have undergone cardiac surgery with a heater-cooler device, you should look for the following signs / symptoms:
- Chronic fever
- Night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
- Joint pain
- General malaise
- Infection in the surgical site
- Endocarditis (infection of the lining of the heart)
- Bacteremia (bacteria in the blood)
- Kidney failure
- Pancytopenia (loss of red and white blood cells)
- Enlargement of the spleen
- Osteomyelitis (bone infection)
Any of the above complications could be evidence of a nontuberculous mycobacteria infection. Even if your surgery was weeks, months or years ago, it is still possible to develop this potentially-deadly infection. If you notice any of the above symptoms, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately. Cultures can be taken and diagnostic testing can be performed to determine if you have an infection. The earlier an infection is identified and treated, the better your chances of a positive outcome. A MA defective medical device lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to the negligence of a medical device manufacturer. Continue reading