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Can a Stockert 3T Heater-Cooler Cause Surgical Complications?

Published on May 2, 2017 at 12:20 pm in Product Liability.

When a patient undergoes lung or heart transplant surgery, it’s crucial that the operation occurs in a 100% sterile environment. Even a single trace of bacteria may cause a patient to develop a life-threatening infection. Transplant surgery patients are at an immunocompromised (weakened) state during surgery and they’re in an exposed condition for a long period of time. Surgeons and surgical assistants take every precaution necessary.

Everything from the equipment used to the members of the surgical team must remain sterile throughout an entire transplant surgery. This includes any devices that are responsible for providing oxygen to the patient, circulating water through equipment, or regulating a patient’s body temperature. Most devices are tested thoroughly by the manufacturers and are guaranteed to be sterile.

One of the most common devices used to regulate patient and equipment temperatures during transplant surgeries is called the Stockert 3T heater-cooler system. The Stockert 3T functions by using a closed-water circuit to carry water between three tanks that regulate the temperature of an operating room’s oxygenators, heating and cooling blankets, and bypass machines. The device was thought to be safe until over 32 diagnosed cases of mycobacterium chimaera were linked to the device after 2010.

Mycobacterium chimaera is a life-threatening infection that is slow-growing and extremely dangerous due to its slow-growing nature. Symptoms may not present until months or even years after a transplant patient has recovered from surgery. The first symptom that results is generally an unexplained severe fever. It is then followed by one or more of the symptoms listed here.

It’s now being discovered that the Stockert 3T heater-cooler may cause surgical complications and infections like mycobacterium chimaera when the water inside the device’s tanks transforms into a gas and enters an immunocompromised patient’s lungs. Even though the water in the device never touches the patient, the gas is still able to travel freely in an operating room. Once in a patient’s lungs, the bacterium can take hold and grow, causing an infection that’s very difficult to get rid of.

Patients who develop this infection must usually undergo a second surgery to have the infected heart or lung implant taken out. This is not always enough to save the patient’s life, however. Transplant surgery patients are already in an immunocompromised state when they undergo the first surgery. This places them severely at risk for death if an infection is developed.

If you or someone you love had heart or lung transplant surgery and developed a serious infection like mycobacterium chimaera that placed their life at risk, you deserve peace of mind. The manufacturer of the Stockert 3T heater-cooler system should have taken the device off the market or created a new model that didn’t allow these complications to occur. By filing a lawsuit against the manufacturer, your family may be able to recover financial compensation that can go towards recovery costs and more.

To learn more, contact Thomas Law Offices today. Our Louisville office can pair you with an experienced Stockert 3T heater-cooler lawyer today who can tell you the merits of your case and help you every step of the way. Thomas Law Offices is currently involved in mass torts cases involving the Stockert 3T and we’re prepared to fight for all our clients. It’s not too late to get involved.