In the United States, 28 people have been infected by nontuberculous mycobacterium(NTM). It’s a bacterium commonly found in water and soil but not people. Yet somehow, it has found its way into people all over the country, and many people are wondering how. Well, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) might have the answer, and if it is right, thousands may have been exposed to this sickness.
Is the Medical Equipment in Your Hospital Safe?
NTM isn’t a pandemic by any means. Its symptoms include, fatigue, weight loss, muscle aches and night sweats. However, out of the 28 infection cases recently discovered here in the U.S., four people have died. Though doctors haven’t directly linked the deaths to the patients’ infections, nobody wants to take that chance, so the CDC has taken action.
The CDC has warned all hospitals using the Stöckert 3T heater-cooler that if their machine was built before 2014 it could be contaminated by NTM. The German factory that makes these machines discovered that part of its factory was contaminated by the NTM bacteria back in 2014. It has since cleaned up the contamination, but all the machines it built prior to the discovery could be tainted. This means that thousands of people may have been exposed to this sickness.
You see, the heater-cooler device is used in heart bypasses and other open heart surgeries all across the nation. It’s estimated that more than 250,000 heart bypasses in this country used the same heater-coolers the CDC has warned hospitals about. Patients who have had invasive surgeries should be on the lookout for pus around their surgical wounds and the symptoms of NTM that were described above.
Doctors also say that NTM infections can be slow to develop and that there are no tests to easily detect it. That means it can take up to eight weeks to identify, so you may want to stay vigilant for symptoms for up to a year after your potential exposure.
It’s unlikely that this string of infections will take any more lives, but hospital bills and prescription treatments cost a lot of money. Will the company that produces the Stöckert 3T be held responsible for those medical costs? Should the government fine the company for releasing contaminated medical devices? Voice your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter, and keep following the Macon product liability attorneys here at the McArthur Law Firm.