Hospital Authority announces infection risks of using a device in cardiothoracic surgeries

The following is issued on behalf of the Hospital Authority:

     The spokesperson for Queen Mary Hospital (QMH) made the following announcement today (November 9) regarding the infection risks of using a heater-cooler device in cardiothoracic surgeries:
     In a regular checking recently, QMH found a water sample collected from a heater-cooler used in cardiothoracic surgery to be positive to Mycobacterium chimaera. After that, the samples collected from two patients were also found to be infected with Mycobacterium chimaera. Two patients are recovering gradually.
     QMH is very concerned about the incident and has ceased to use this model of device immediately for thorough cleansing, as well as replacement of connectors and tubing according to the manufacturer's advice. The hospital would use the device from another manufacturer. The cardiothoracic surgery services of QMH are not affected. For those patients who had used the devices would be put under clinical surveillance in accordance with the clinical procedures.
     QMH has already reported to the Hospital Authority (HA) Head Office and the Centre for Health Protection (CHP), and would closely monitor the latest situation with CHP.
     The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States issued a safety alert last year that a heater-cooler used in cardiothoracic surgeries could be contaminated by Mycobacterium chimaera. The device, while in use, carries a potential risk of transmitting the bacteria through the air or the exhaust vent. A patient's infection risk is estimated to be around one out of 1 000. Mycobacterium chimaera is commonly found in water and soil. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, patients may develop symptoms several months after being infected with the bacteria. Doctors would prescribe antibiotic treatment for the infected patients.
     After receiving the safety alert last November, HA had notified the three public hospitals providing cardiothoracic surgery services (including Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Prince of Wales Hospital and Queen Mary Hospital) and adopted a series of infection control measures based on the recommendations from the FDA and microbiology experts. These include: adhere to the manufacturers' instruction in cleaning and disinfecting the device; conduct more frequent checks and replacement of the tubing and connectors; position the exhaust vent away from patient as far as possible and explain the risks to the patient receiving open heart surgeries. At present, Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Prince of Wales Hospital do not use this model.

Ends/Thursday, November 9, 2017
Issued at HKT 21:43