Baystate notifying open-heart surgery patients of infection risk

Not everyone is at risk of infection

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Baystate Medical Center is notifying up to 1,800 patients who had open-heart surgery since 2012 that they may be at risk of a dangerous infection.

The FDA recently revealed that a heater cooler machine, crucial in open-heart surgery, can harbor a lethal bacteria. The bacteria can grow inside the machine and convert into a fine spray through the unit’s exhaust fan.

Baystate had been using the device since 2012. Not everyone who had open-heart surgery at the hospital is at risk of infection.

Baystate’s Manager of Public Affairs, Brendan Monahan told 22News that the hospital stopped using the device in February, once the FDA revealed its concerns about post-surgical infections.  Baystate has been following CDC guidelines ever since.

About 60% of hospitals that perform the procedure used this device. Several lawsuits have been filed across the country, but Baystate has yet to hear of any complaints.  Baystate will send out letters to those patients in the next 10 days.

The device associated with the infection is the Stöckert 3T heater-cooler device, manufactured by LivaNova, PLC (formerly known as Sorin Group Deutschland GmbH).

In a statement sent to 22News, Monahan stated:

Like other hospitals nationwide, Baystate Health is following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when it comes to notifying patients about the potential infection  exposure associated with the Stöckert 3T heater-cooler device. To date, no patients have acquired this infection and the odds of doing so are low. It is important to note that, when in operation, this device was not used during all cardiac procedures at Baystate and only those who were potentially exposed during surgery will be receiving letters in the next 10 days. Our highest priority is ensuring the safety and well-being of our patients, and therefore this notification is being completed out of an abundance of caution in partnership with the CDC.