Hospitals and other health care facilities should immediately assess their use of heater-cooler units to ensure they are safe and properly maintained, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC identified a need for increased awareness of non-tuberculosis mycobacterium (NTM) infections, particularly in patients who have been treated with a heater-cooler unit, often used during cardiac surgical procedures to warm and cool a patient’s blood. Patients who may have been exposed to NTM should continue to monitor signs of potential infection, as the infection may not manifest for several years. Contaminated heater-coolers should be promptly removed from operating rooms and properly maintained in the appropriate setting. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued a safety communication that addresses issues in the proper use and maintenance of heater-coolers.

If you have questions or concerns, contact Erin O’Malley, director of policy, at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127.