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Eastern Health heart surgery patients advised of potential infection risk

A list of operating room heater-cooler devices licensed in Canada that are currently under investigation, due to the potential risk of nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infections in patients who have undergone open-heart surgeries.
A list of operating room heater-cooler devices licensed in Canada that are currently under investigation, due to the potential risk of nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infections in patients who have undergone open-heart surgeries.

Eastern Health is advising patients who have had open-heart surgeries in Newfoundland and Labrador about a potential infection risk related to operating room devices.

Health Canada issued an alert in late October to hospitals across the country about the potential risk of infection from heater-cooler devices used during open-heart surgery.

These devices are described by Health Canada as "non-sterile devices" used in the operating room to control the patient’s blood temperature during cardiothoracic surgeries, as well as other medical and surgical procedures when heating and cooling of blood is required.

Health Canada said there are international reports of nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infections associated with heater-cooler devices used in cardiothoracic surgery and a small number of possible Canadian cases are under investigation.

"The infection could result from the transfer via aerosolization of NTM-contaminated water contained in the heater-cooler devices into the operating room and into patients during surgery. NTM infections potentially associated with heater-cooler devices have been diagnosed months to years after cardiothoracic surgery."

Eastern Health said in a news release, it is not aware of any patients who have developed this infection following open heart surgery in the province, but joins many hospitals across Canada, the United States and Europe who are notifying patients.

The health authority is notifying adult patients who have had open-heart surgery in Newfoundland and Labrador since 2012 about the potential infection risk related to their surgery.

Eastern Health said it encourages patients who had open-heart surgery during this period to discuss any concerns with their family doctor.
Patients can also contact Eastern Health by calling (709) 752-5252 or toll-free at 1-877-720-2323 on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or on weekends from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The Health Canada advisory with further details and information about the devices is online at http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/recall-alert-rappel-avis/hc-sc/2016/60662a-eng.php

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