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CDC Notifies Hospitals of Potential Risk Involving Device Used in Open-Chest Surgery

Safe, high-quality care for patients is our highest priority at BJC HealthCare. As part of our commitment to patient safety, we want to share important information with our patients about a potential infection risk that is affecting hospitals across the U.S. and around the world.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notified U.S. hospitals in October about a risk of infection related to a device used in major open-chest surgical procedures that require heart-lung bypass.

Although BJC has no indication at this time that any of our patients have been affected, as a precautionary measure we have notified patients to make them aware of this potential issue and to provide resources to answer questions.

For patients who had one of these procedures, the chances of getting this infection are very low. BJC has reviewed the records of patients who underwent open chest procedures at BJC hospitals since January 2010. In this review, BJC found no evidence of such infections related to use of this device at BJC hospitals.

As background, the CDC reports the devices – which are used in approximately 60 percent of heart bypass procedures in the U.S. – may have been compromised during the manufacturing process. The CDC, along with the Food and Drug Administration, are investigating reports that use of the device has been linked to a rare bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium chimaera (M. chimaera), a type of bacteria known as nontuberculous mycobacteria.

Although rare, this infection is very slow-growing and can be difficult to diagnose. It is possible to develop symptoms years after surgery so it is important to know the symptoms to look for and to discuss any symptoms or questions with your doctor. This infection cannot be spread from one person to another.

Following are links to additional resources:
Safety Notice Frequently Asked Questions
CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/outbreaks/heater-cooler.html
Questions for the CDC: https://wwwn.cdc.gov/dcs/ContactUs/Form

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