Heart pa­tients at small risk of in­fec­tion

Western Leader - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - RACHEL THOMAS

Thou­sands of Ki­wis who had open-heart surgery face a small, but se­ri­ous risk of in­fec­tion, due to a po­ten­tially con­tam­i­nated de­vice used in their pro­ce­dure.

Some 5500 pa­tients who re­ceived ar­ti­fi­cial valves since 2013 at five ma­jor pub­lic hospi­tals have been sent let­ters from the Min­istry of Health telling them a de­vice used in their surgery may have been con­tam­i­nated with a germ.

One sus­pected case has al­ready been iden­ti­fied and treated in New Zealand, the let­ter said, as of­fi­cials con­firm the ma­chine is still in use.

The rate of in­fec­tion is es­ti­mated to be one in 5000 pro­ce­dures, but the bac­te­ria can take years to take hold, mak­ing it hard to iden­tify the surgery as the cause of the is­sue.

The de­vice is a ma­chine known as a heater-cooler, used in many open-heart surg­eries to con­trol the tem­per­a­ture of the blood.

Those who had surgery from Jan­uary 1, 2013, at five pub­lic hospi­tals across the coun­try – Auck­land, Star­ship, Waikato, Christchurch and Welling­ton, should have been no­ti­fied or have let­ters en-route.

Symp­toms can take be­tween three months and five years to be di­ag­nosed.

Symp­toms are the same as for any in­fec­tion and in­clude fevers or night sweats, un­ex­plained weight loss, fa­tigue, chest pain, in­fec­tion around the site of surgery, in­creased short­ness of breath, joint or mus­cle pain and nau­sea, vom­it­ing or ab­dom­i­nal pain.

Can­ter­bury DHB clin­i­cal mi­cro­bi­ol­o­gist Josh Free­man said treat­ment re­quires a long course of an­tibi­otics and of­ten surgery on the af­fected heart valves.

Free­man, who ad­vised the min­istry on the is­sue, de­clined to com­ment on where the New Zealand case was, but said it was a slightly dif­fer­ent bac­te­ria to the one at the cen­tre of the is­sue.

Al­though the man­u­fac­turer flagged the is­sue in 2015, the Min­istry of Health has con­firmed the ma­chine is still in use.

When it was first iden­ti­fied, hos­pi­tal units were given a deep clean and DHBs were told to mon­i­tor the is­sue, a min­istry spokesman said.

It’s un­der­stood the re­cent case of in­fec­tion prompted the mass mailout.

‘‘It’s hard to find al­ter­na­tives and this is a re­ally im­por­tant ma­chine for car­diac surgery,’’ Free­man said. Let­ters were due to be sent to pa­tients on Fe­bru­ary 12.

SUP­PLIED

Can­ter­bury DHB clin­i­cal mi­cro­bi­ol­o­gist Josh Free­man said treat­ment re­quires a long course of an­tibi­otics and of­ten surgery on the af­fected heart valves.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.