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Patients may have been exposed to bacteria during surgery

According to leaders at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa, approximately 2,600 open-heart patients may have been exposed to a bacterial infection. Those patients had their procedures performed between 2012 and 2015, and they may have been exposed to germs called Nontuberculous Mycobacteria. The bacteria is frequently referred to as MTM, and it is a less potent form of tuberculosis.

While healthy individuals have a relatively easy time overcoming the issue, those who have open-heart surgery have a weaker immune system. The infection usually takes several months or years to develop and is not contagious. It can generally be treated effectively once it is detected in an individual. Signs of a possible infection include redness or pus around an incision made during the surgery as well as lingering fever or night sweats. Doctors first discovered the issue when preparing two patients for follow-up procedures.

It is believed that the bacteria could have spread from a heart-lung machine used to keep the patients alive during the procedure. The hospital has said that the risk of infection is extremely low, but it made the announcement for the sake of transparency. It also said that it had purchased new machines and instituted new procedures in an effort to eliminate the problem from occurring again.

Hospital negligence can be the basis of a medical malpractice lawsuit. In order to be successful, a patient's attorney will have to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the health care facility failed to exhibit the requisite standard of care and that the patient was harmed as a result.

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