Nationwide 3T Heater-Cooler Infection Lawsuits
Experienced Chicago Medical Device Attorneys
A device used to control temperature during heart and lung surgeries is under investigation for causing serious infections in patients. The 3T heater-cooler units are used in about 60% of open-heart surgeries in the United States.
These systems either heat or cool a patient’s body during surgery using temperature-controlled water tanks. Although the water does not come in contact with the patient, if it is contaminated, bacteria may become airborne and infect the patient. Specifically, these devices are linked to Legionnaires’ disease, M. chimaera (Mycobacterium chimaera) and other NTM (nontuberculous mycobacteria) infections.
Surgeries Using Heater-Cooler Systems
- Many types of heart and lung surgeries use 3T systems, including:
- Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG)
- Heart valve replacement
- Lung and heart transplants
- Lung resection
- LVAD (left ventricular assist device) device implants
- Open-chest heart surgery
- Other cardiopulmonary procedures
Infections Caused by Heater-Coolers
Between 1 in 100 and 1 in 1,000 patients will suffer NTM infections from heater-cooler systems, according to federal estimates.
NTM is a common type of bacteria found in water and soil. When it grows inside heater-cooler water tanks, it releases through the devices’ vents and contaminates the room. Once in the room, NTM bacteria can enter a patient’s open chest cavity or infect an implant going into the patient. If NTM bacteria enters a patient’s bloodstream, it is extremely harmful and even fatal. Patients who have had valves or prosthetic implants are at a higher risk for NTM infections.
NTM grows slowly, so it may take months or years for symptoms of an infection to show up in patients, sometimes taking as long as four years after it enters the body for signs to develop. The most common infection linked to NTM bacteria is M. chimaera (Mycobacterium chimaera). Some heater-cooler devices have also tested positive for Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease.
If You Developed an Infection After Surgery, Call (800) 774-7120 Today
Symptoms of NTM and Legionnaires’ infections include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Joint or muscle pain
- Night sweats
- Persistent cough
Every year in the U.S., hundreds of thousands of surgeries involve heater-coolers. Most patients don’t know that these systems are even present in their surgery rooms, much less that they may be contaminated with deadly bacteria.
Investigations into 3T heater-coolers found they were likely contaminated during the manufacturing process. Infected patients and their families are now suing the companies that made the contaminated systems.
3T heater-coolers were invented by a company called Stockert, and made at facilities owned by LivaNova PLC. The two companies recalled these systems in July 2015 and are now facing massive litigation.
NTM infections are extremely difficult to treat and only about half of those infected are likely to survive.
Two hospitals in Pennsylvania have already warned thousands of patients that they may have been exposed during surgeries: 2,300 people at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, and 1,300 people at WellSpan York Hospital.
Contact Our Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer
Our medical device lawyers are currently investigating cases of serious infections from 3T heater-cooler systems. We are also reviewing Bair Hugger Warming Systems cases – more on those lawsuits here.
We’ve been representing patients harmed by medical devices for 30 years, winning millions for our clients. Lawsuits help patients and families secure compensation for medical bills, lost wages, disability, emotional distress, and the loss of a loved one.
We help patients and families in all 50 states. Contact us to speak with a medical device lawyer for free. You are under no obligation to hire us, and your call is kept confidential.
- Information for Patients
- FDA’s October 2016 Safety Alert
- FDA Fact Sheet on NTM Infections Linked to Heater-Cooler Devices
- CDC Research Article on M. Chimaera from Heater-Cooler Systems
- Bair Hugger Warming Blanket Infection Lawyer Page
Call (800) 774-7120 today—you pay no fee unless we win your case, so the best time to call is now.