Officials Warn Surgical Machines May Have Exposed Some Open-Heart/Transplant Patients To Rare Bacteria

CHARLOTTE, NC — Officials are warning open-heart and certain transplant patients that a surgical machine may have exposed them to a rare bacteria.

Officials with Carolina Healthcare Systems issued a statement Friday regarding a letter that was sent out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to individuals possibly affected by the news.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a news release advising that heater-cooler machines used in cardiovascular and some liver transplant surgeries to regulate the patient’s temperature have been associated with clusters of infections from a type of bacteria called Nontuberculous mycobacteria. Carolinas HealthCare System (CHS) has been aware of this situation for the past year and has taken aggressive steps to reduce the risk. Enhanced cleaning techniques are being used on all heater-cooler machines currently in service and the machines are placed in the operating room near vents and away from the patient to minimize any risk of bacteria in the air around the surgical field.  No cluster of infections due to the heater-cooler machines has been found at Carolinas HealthCare System.

Advances in minimally invasive surgical techniques are reducing the need for these machines and Carolinas HealthCare System has also expanded the use of a different type of machine in other surgeries where heater-cooler machines are not required.   Also, the System has ordered redesigned heater-cooler machines from a different manufacturer that are not known to harbor bacteria and all old machines will be removed from service when the new heater-coolers arrive in March.”

We are working to get a copy of the letter sent by the CDC. We will post that to this story as soon as it becomes available.