Mayo Clinic latest hospital to warn patients of heater-cooler-related infection risks

Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic is notifying 17,000 heart surgery patients they could be at risk of infection from heater-cooler devices used during their procedure, according to Consumer Reports. The hospital has found one patient at its Rochester campus who has contracted an infection.

In 2015, experts linked heater-cooler devices to nontuberculous mycobacterium, or NTM, infections. In October, the CDC warned that a particular brand of heater-coolers — LivaNova's Stockert 3T heater-coolers — were causing the infections in patients. The FDA also issued a safety communication about the LivaNova devices.

Mayo Clinic has been using LivaNova devices since 2012, according to Consumer Reports, and the hospital held an emergency meeting the day after the FDA released its communication.

"We just felt strongly that every patient that had had cardiac surgery that could have been exposed to this bacteria should know about it," Brad Narr, MD, Mayo Clinic's chief of anesthesiology and chair of the clinic's surgical and procedural committee, told the magazine.

NTM bacteria occur naturally in nature and typically are not harmful, but they can cause infections in people with weakened immune systems. The infection is treatable.

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