Heart Bypass Patients Should Monitor Health Due to Device Infection Issues

Contact: Heather Woolwine

Jan. 23, 2017

CHARLESTON, SC – Providing high-quality and safe care is MUSC Health’s top priority, and leadership has been concerned with ongoing reports that heater-cooler equipment used in open-heart procedures is associated with infections due to potentially harmful bacteria. Clinicians, staff, and leadership want to assure patients and the public that MUSC Health has followed and will continue to follow guidance from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to minimize any risk of infection and notify affected patients of the potential risks related to these devices. The MUSC Health team also continues to take steps to mitigate potential exposure to patients. More detailed information is available at  Contaminated Heater-Cooler Devices.

The FDA has been monitoring the infection risk associated with use of the Stӧckert 3T Heater-Cooler System (3T), which controls the temperature of blood during some open-heart surgeries. Some patients across the country have contracted an infection due to Non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) after exposure to infected devices. MUSC Health, along with 60 percent of all the nation’s heart surgery programs, uses this equipment during surgeries such as coronary bypass and heart or lung transplantations.

The infection is slow growing and difficult to diagnose, and cannot be spread person-to- person. It is possible to develop symptoms years after surgery, so it is important for those affected to be aware of those symptoms. Patients who have undergone surgery requiring the use of heart bypass devices should discuss any symptoms they may have with their primary care provider.

Symptoms of this kind of infection may include night sweats, muscle aches, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and unexplained fever. MUSC Health encourages concerned patients, family members or the public to reach out if there are additional questions by calling 
843-792-5555. A member of the MUSC Health team will return any calls within two business days. If someone feels that a medical emergency is underway based on the aforementioned symptoms, MUSC Health encourages those individuals to contact their primary care provider or visit an emergency care provider immediately.

About MUSC Health
MUSC Health is the clinical enterprise of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) comprised of a 700-bed Medical Center, the MUSC College of Medicine and the physicians’ practice plan. It serves patients across South Carolina and beyond through four hospital facilities in Charleston and more than 100 outreach sites. Among these are the Hollings Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated center and the only one of its kind in South Carolina, and a nationally recognized children’s hospital. The Medical University was founded in 1824 and has become a premiere academic health sciences center at the forefront of the latest advances in medicine, with world-class practitioners and scientists providing groundbreaking research and technology that is often the first of its kind in the world.