Baystate hospital to notify up to 1,800 patients of heater-cooler infection risk

Following CDC guidance, Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., is in the process of notifying 1,500 to 1,800 cardiac surgery patients of an infection risk associated with a specific type of heater-cooler device.

In October, the CDC issued a warning that Stöckert 3T heater-cooler device — used in roughly 60 percent of bypass procedures in the U.S. each year — were likely spreading nontuberculous mycobacterium infections to patients undergoing heart surgery.

A CDC official urged hospitals to alert potentially affected patients, which is what Baystate Health — and other hospitals like Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic — is doing now.

"To date, no [Baystate] patients have acquired this infection," read an emailed statement from Baystate. "Our highest priority is ensuring the safety and well-being of our patients, and therefore this notification is being completed out of an abundance of caution in partnership with the CDC."

Affected Baystate patients will be notified via mail in the next 10 days.

NTM bacteria occur naturally in nature and can cause infections in people with weakened immune systems. The infections can be life-threatening and are difficult to treat.

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