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Surgical errors may have resulted from defective device

An entrepreneur and bicycle enthusiast beloved by his community has tragically lost his life due in part to a device used during his open-heart surgery. Delaware residents may be shocked to hear that the 62-year-old man died as a result of a rare infection, which has been associated by medical professionals with a device used to regulate his blood temperature during the surgery. The question of whether surgical errors can result from the misuse of a defective device appears to be a central issue in the medical malpractice claim that is now pending.

According to the lawsuit, the man died of nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), which has been linked to the use of a heater-cooler device used to regulate blood temperature during surgery. The lawsuit targets the hospital where the man's surgery took place as well as the group that manufactured the device. The device is designed to circulate water during surgery; the unit includes an exhaust. 

It is alleged that the infection the man suffered arose when the bacteria, which was living in the device, became aerosolized by the exhaust function. The hospital has admitted its cleaning processes did not align with guidelines for maintaining the units. The hospital has since replaced its units with a different brand. 

Surgical errors are not limited simply to a surgeon's ability to perform his or her professional duties. As Delaware residents are no doubt aware, the use of invasive devices during a surgery can pose a critical risk to patients. It is the responsibility of the medical professionals tending to a patient to ensure no unnecessary harm will come to the patient, lest they open themselves to a medical malpractice lawsuit. 

Source: pennlive.com, "Founder of York County business died of rare heart infection linked to surgical device", David Wenner, June 27, 2016

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