A Letter to Patients Following Open Chest Cardiac Surgery

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A Letter to Patients Following Open Chest Cardiac Surgery

Friday, November 18, 2016


Dear Sir or Madam,

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating reports that a device used nationwide to heat and cool the blood during open heart surgery has been linked to a rare bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium chimaera, a type of bacteria known as nontuberculous mycobacterium (NTM). Centra Lynchburg General Hospital is notifying all patients who had open-heart surgery in the past seven years about a potential infection risk related to this surgery and device. While you or a member of your family have been identified in clinical records as a patient who might be affected, the chance of getting an infection of this type is very low.

After reviewing approximately 2,100 clinical charts for patients who could have potentially developed this infection, no one has presented with symptoms of this infection as a result of their surgery here at Lynchburg General Hospital. The best evidence indicates that the risk of developing the infection is less than 1 in 10,000 cases.

Due to the bacteria’s slow growth, it is possible to develop symptoms years after surgery, so it is important to know the symptoms to look for. Discuss any symptoms or questions you may have with your primary care doctor. This infection cannot be spread from person-to-person.
Symptoms of an NTM infection may include:

  • night sweats
  • persistent cough
  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • unexplained fever


We understand that you and your family may have additional questions or concerns about this information. To help answer them, we have established a toll-free number at 1 (888) 250-1605 for you to call Monday through Friday from 8am to 6pm Eastern Standard Time. This number will be available starting November 18, 2016. 

Sincerely,
Daniel Carey, MD
Centra Senior Vice-President
Chief Medical Officer