According to news reports, eight patients who underwent heart bypass surgery at a Pennsylvania hospital most likely suffered bacterial infections because of a contaminated medical device used during the surgeries. The device is a heater-cooler unit used to control a patient’s blood pressure during open-heart surgery. Of the eight patients who were likely infected by the device, four died.
After a joint investigation with the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the hospital announced that the infections were probably the result of the contamination of tap water used in the device. According to the hospital, the devices were not being cleaned in full compliance with the manufacturer’s guidelines. To prevent further bacterial contamination, the manufacturer now recommends that the devices be filled with filtered water and hydrogen peroxide and cleaned with bleach.
Patients undergoing bypass surgeries are more susceptible to infection. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there have been 32 reports around the world of infection or contamination relating to the medical devices. Even so, the total number of infections resulting from the device is not exactly known, since symptoms do not always surface immediately after surgery.
All of the heater-cooling units suspected to have been contaminated have now been replaced at the hospital. According to the hospital, now that the cause of the infections has been identified and new protocols implemented to prevent future infections, current patients are no longer at risk of infection when the device is used during surgery.
Medical Device Makers May Be Liable for Defective Products
Medical devices are generally safe. They are tested and retested to ensure that patients are not in danger when the device is part of their treatment protocol.
But sometimes a design defect slips through the cracks. Or sometimes the product is designed properly, but there is a flaw in the manufacturing process. Finally, sometimes a product is designed and manufactured to perfection, but a hospital employee or doctor does not follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions or simply operates the device carelessly.
In any of these situations, if a patient ends up injured because of the defect or carelessness, he or she may be entitled to recover damages. If the patient dies, the patient’s family may be able to recover for their loss.
If a medical device is designed with an unknown defect, or the device is manufactured improperly, the maker of that device is liable to an injured patient or family without having to prove that the manufacturer is at fault. If the device is defective, and it was defective when it left the manufacturer’s control or possession, as long as it caused a patient’s injury, the designer or manufacturer are liable. Under the law, we call this strict liability.
On the other hand, if the device is perfectly safe, but a doctor or other medical professional does not operate it with proper care or according to the manufacturer’s instructions, the doctor may be liable for any injuries caused. With the heating-cooling unit used in heart bypass surgeries, it appears that the hospital was not cleaning the device in full compliance with the manufacturer’s instructions by not using bleach to clean the machines. As a result, the hospital may be liable to the families of the deceased patients, or even to patients who did not die but who were infected and may have unpaid medical bills, additional lost wages, or even pain and suffering that they otherwise would not have experienced.
Have You Been Injured In a Hospital or By a Doctor?
First and foremost, the lawyers at Moll Law Group are concerned about the safety of patients receiving medical care. More than anything else, our lawyers are focused on making sure that doctors and hospitals are providing the safest care possible. Even so, hospitals and doctors make mistakes. Despite their best efforts, they may forget to take certain precautions or just use a medical device without taking reasonable care. In these cases, Moll Law Group can help. We understand the complexities of health care. We know what is expected of doctors and when they have made a mistake. We listen to you and your families, and we do everything possible to help you recover what you are entitled to under the law. For a free consultation, call (312) 462-1700.
See More Posts:
Girl Sues After Suffering a Serious Injury While Boarding a Chicago Bus, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, October 22, 2015.
Six-Vehicle Chain-Reaction Accident Caused When Semi-Truck Rear-Ends Van, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, October 20, 2015.
Fatal O’Fallon Truck Accident May Have Been Caused by Medical Emergency, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, October 18, 2015.