This week a Manchester Coroner ruled that two hospital patients died after contracting mycobacterium chimaera infection from contaminated heater cooler units used during their open heart surgery.

Our Consultant Paul Balen represented these families at their joint inquest and also represents them in relation to their civil claims against the German manufacturer of the contaminated heater cooler units used during their surgeries.

Paul represents 23 other similar patients and families who have been left devastated by this infection.

In January this year, Public Health England said that it was aware of 43 cases in England although the real figure is likely to be higher as the infection is difficult to diagnose and until 2017 the medical profession generally were unaware of the problem. The infection can become symptomatic anywhere from 3 months to 5 years after the heart operation and in the cases we have seen was often not linked by doctors to the contaminated machines until patients were too weak to withstand the lengthy treatment required.

Whilst Public Health England warned NHS Trusts in 2015 and the machines were then decontaminated and redesigned by the manufacturer, it was only in 2017 that the wider medical profession and patients were alerted.

In these two cases the Assistant Coroner wants to know why Public Health England delayed until 2017 in publicising the problem when other countries had taken action in 2014 and 2015.

If you, or a loved one has a diagnosis of mycobacterium chimaera infection following heart valve surgery, please contact:-

Paul Balen, Consultant on 0845 050 3289 or paul.balen@freeths.co.uk

Alicia Gill, Solicitor on 0845 077 9602 or alicia.gill@freeths.co.uk