New York readers may be surprised to learn that around a dozen children have contracted a rare infection after undergoing cardiac surgery at a New Orleans hospital. All the infections occurred this summer.
According to investigators at New Orleans Children’s Hospital, the victims were exposed to a bacteria known as mycobacterium abscessus, which is a distant relative of the bacteria strains that cause leprosy and tuberculosis. The hospital said that it was very unusual for that type of bacteria to be the source of surgical wound infections. The known victims have been hospitalized and treated with antibiotics. Other potential victims have been contacted to schedule an evaluation.
The mycobacterium abscessus bacteria was traced to a surgical heater-cooler device that regulates a patient’s temperature during cardiac surgery. According to a representative of the hospital, it is difficult to fully disinfect the device. Children’s Hospital was also the site of a flesh-eating fungal infection outbreak that killed several patients between August 2008 and July 2009. The facility was criticized for failing to notify affected families until the outbreak was exposed in a medical journal a number of years later. The fungal infection was traced to contaminated bed sheets.
When unclean hospital facilities cause patient infections, the affected victims may have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the facility. Medical malpractice lawsuits typically seek compensation for medical expenses and other losses. If patients lose their lives due to hospital negligence, their next of kin could pursue a wrongful death lawsuit to recover funeral and burial costs, loss of income and other related damages.
Source: The Advocate, "Children’s Hospital in New Orleans says 12 patients contracted rare infection after recent heart surgeries", Jim Mustian, Sept. 11, 2017