What the Sorin 3T Contamination Debacle Means for Infected Patients

We recently wrote about the Sorin 3T Heater-Cooler System, a medical device used in invasive open chest surgeries that was the subject of a recent investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency found that the device had been contaminated during the manufacturing process with a devastating type of bacteria know as Mycobacterium chimaera. Worse, a defect in the design of the device caused a related organism, Mycobacterium abcessus, to be aerosolized and sprayed out through the device’s vent fan.

What makes mycobacteria so dangerous

First and foremost, the majority of surgeries that require the use of the Sorin 3T Heater-Cooler system are not minimally invasive procedures to repair minor damage. Any surgery that requires the chest cavity to be open and the cessation of heart activity requires serious recuperation time for individuals who were already health-compromised to begin with. For perspective, the most common open chest surgeries include coronary bypass, heart transplants and lung transplants.

When a chest surgery patient is infected with mycobacterium, there are no immediate symptoms. In fact, the very nature of this family of bacteria makes them difficult to detect and treat; through the ages, mankind has battled mycobacteria that cause leprosy and tuberculosis with very little success until the advent of modern medicine. Mycobacteria are extremely slow growing and very hardy; they have a triple-layered cell wall that makes them nearly impervious to antibiotics or any other treatment. In fact, any condition hazardous enough to kill a mycobacteria infection in a human would kill the human long before the infection was eliminated.

The cure is worse than the disease

Currently, mycobacteria infections are treated with long-term, high-dose antibiotics. This treatment can wreak all kinds of havoc on a healthy human being; in a patient living with an artificial valve or organ transplantation issues, this cure could be fatal. Undergoing open chest surgery places tremendous strain on the body. Recovery times are measured in months and years; after a transplant, immunosuppressant drugs can be required for the rest of a patient’s life. When an avoidable infection requires high-dose therapy or even revision surgery (to replace an infected valve), quality of life doesn’t suffer- it plummets.

Healthcare doesn’t happen at a single point. Instead, it’s an entire web of researchers, manufacturers, drug makers and care providers that work together to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy. This network is held to higher standard of care because it all supports to most vital part of our world- our loved ones. When any party is negligent, from design to manufacturing to diagnoses, real people suffer real consequences. At Crandall & Pera Law, we fight against negligent healthcare providers and protect patients’ rights. If you believe that you or your loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice or negligence, our experienced Kentucky and Ohio medical malpractice attorneys can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, call our Kentucky legal team at 877.651.7764, our Ohio legal team at 877.686.8879, or contact us today.