Nurses, help! You may have open-heart surgery patients infected with this bacteria

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that open-heart surgery patients as far back as January 2012 may have been infected with a slow-growing bacteria that can go years before any symptoms present.


Some-German made Stöckert 3T surgical heater-cooler units may have been contaminated Mycobacterium chimaera when they were manufactured. These kind of devices are used in many cardiothoracic and other chest surgeries where there is a chance patients may be exposed to the bacteria.


Although CDC says the chances of a patient becoming infected during the surgery are low, contaminated devices have been linked to infections in both the U.S. and Europe. Also, the risks appears to be highest in patients who received prosthetic device or valve implants.


Since the bacteria has a slow-developing nature, patients may not think to connect some symptoms with their surgery. As a nurse, this is where asking the right questions make a big difference.


If any of your patients has had open-chest surgery within the past four years and presents with symptoms like unusual fever, fatigue or joint pain, night sweats, nausea, abdominal pain or vomiting, or unexplained weight loss, they may have been exposed to the bacteria during their surgery. Lab cultures can  confirm the infection.


Now if your unit uses surgical heater-cooler devices, as a nurse you can help by ensuring that your facility has the latest manufacturer cleaning and disinfection guidelines. Some may have changed since the federal investigation began.




 Published at: 12/01/2017