Wellspan York Hospital Infection Risk for Heart Surgery Patients

Just last week, Wellspan York Hospital published a press release stating that a bacterial infection risk was present in the Hospital that my have effected as many as 1,300 open heart surgery patients. Eight patients have been positively identified as contracting nontuberculous mycobacterium (NTM) infections. Four of those have died.

Because all four of the deceased had a history of other medical conditions, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) did not directly link the infection to their deaths. York Hospital did admit that the infection likely contributed to the deaths of the patients. NTM effects people with weakened immune systems, as is the case with a patient recovering from open heart surgery. The infection results in a long lasting pulmonary illness requiring extensive prolonged antibiotic treatment that may take more than a year to fully cure.

What is nontuberculous mycobacterium, or NTM?

NTM is a naturally occurring bacterium commonly found in soil and water. People are infected by inhaling the bacteria (per the American Lung Association). The bacteria is not strong enough to effect people with a healthy immune system, so none of the medical professionals became ill.

Symptoms of NTM Infection Include:

  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Redness, Heat or Pus Around The Surgical Incision
  • weight loss
  • Night Sweats
  • Joint Pain
  • Muscle Pain
  • Loss of Energy

York Hospital Notifying Other Open Heart Patients Of Infection Risk

York Hospital is notifying all their open heart surgery patients who underwent their surgery between October 1, 2011 and July 24, 2015. The potential number is around 1,300 patients that my be at risk of an NTM infection.

What Caused the Bacteria? Wasn’t the Hospital Clean?

After a joint investigation by York Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control, it was determined that a device used during surgery had not been cleaned properly. The device is called a “heater-cooler” device and the Hospital’s cleaning policies were “not aligned” with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Although York Hospital developed new enhanced cleaning procedures, they replaced all their heater-cooler units.

Were You An Open Heart Patient At Wellspan York Hospital? You May Be Eligible For Compensation

If you underwent open heart surgery at Wellspan York Hospital between October 2011 and July 24, 2015, you may have been put at an unnecessary risk of infection by the carelessness of hospital staff who did not sufficiently clean their equipment according to manufacturer’s specifications. We at Handler, Henning & Rosenberg are here to help you if you were injured by the negligence of another, including a large hospital like Wellspan York. Get your free consultation today to see if you are eligible for compensation due to the hospital’s negligence.


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