Few people enjoy going to the hospital, but a recent series of lawsuits have taken that to a new level. Two separate lawsuits, each filed against London’s York and LivaNova Hospitals, have alleged that the hospitals and creators of a medical device caused undue suffering due to negligence. What exactly happened to spark these lawsuits?
The two lawsuits have come about nearly eight months after York Hospital released a statement warning 1300 patients that had received open heart surgery at the hospital between October 1, 2011 and July 24, 2015 of a possible complication. The warning was rather severe: all 1300 patients may have been exposed to nontuberculous mycobacteria, or NTM.
Of these 1300 patients, five have died and three more have been found to be infected with NTM. York Hospital subsequently sent out a warning to other local hospitals that a heater-cooler device could hold NTM if it was not properly cleaned and disinfected. Who made the heater-cooler device? You guessed it: LivaNova.
York Hospital found that NTM could develop inside of the device until it was converted into a fine spray. From there, it was easy for NTM to be transmitted into a patient’s body. This came as terrible news to the 1300 at-risk patients, partially because NTM is a slow-spreading bacteria that can take years to develop any symptoms.
The First Lawsuit Against Medical Device Manufacturer
One lawsuit on behalf of a 62-year-old man alleged that LivaNova had been negligent by creating a product that could so easily spread NTM to patients. The lawsuit against medical device manufacturer also claimed that LivaNova should have been aware of these possible complications and ensured that they were fixed before releasing the product.
The 62-year-old man had undergone heart surgery in December of 2014, then experienced fever and fatigue for several months after. A bone marrow biopsy and blood test in June 2015 each confirmed that he had contracted NTM. Despite immediately starting anti-NTM therapy, his symptoms worsened until he went to York Hospital for congestive heart failure. He passed away on November 7, 2015, only two weeks after the hospital informed him of his bacterial infection.
The lawsuit claimed that York Hospital had a responsibility to thoroughly clean their machinery to prevent such infections, and had thus been negligent by allowing the man to be infected with NTM. It also insisted that York Hospital had failed to inform patients of the risk of infection prior to their surgeries.
The Second Lawsuit
The second plaintiff had gone to York Hospital for open heart surgery in March of 2015. The man seemed to be doing well initially, but by August 2015 he was experiencing severe fatigue. By September, his condition had worsened and he experienced chills, nausea and fever.
He went in and out of the hospital several times in October, but his cultures came back negative and he was diagnosed with dehydration. Despite the earlier warning of possible NTM infection, he was admitted on November 20, 2015 for “persistent leukopenia” due to a reduction of white blood cells.
The man was diagnosed with NTM one week later and began a round of antibiotics. By that point, however, he had experienced loss of vision and hearing, as well as other severe side effects. His lawsuit claimed that due to the negligence of the defendants, he underwent months of suffering and chronic illness.
Each plaintiff is seeking upwards of $50,000 in reparations, but it is unclear how the case will go. Only time will tell if York Hospital and LivaNova were criminally negligent, or had made simple mistakes.
Learn more about Medical Device Lawsuits.