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An estimated 2,300 patients at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, received a warning letter that they may be at risk for a bacterial infection if they underwent open-heart surgery within the past four years.

According to the news release issued by the hospital, 2,300 open-heart surgery patients are at possible risk of nontuberculous mycobacterium, or NTM. The patients at risk had surgery between the dates of Nov. 5, 2011 and Nov. 5, 2015.

“In the interest of patient safety, based on our own experience over the past several months as well as mounting clinical evidence, we recommend other hospitals carefully review their heater-cooler devices,” said Dr. Carol Freer, chief medical officer for Penn State Hershey Medical Center. “We remain concerned that our recent experience may not be unique to our hospital.”

Three Penn State Hershey patients had infections caused by NTM. Two patients had complex medical issues and have died. Their deaths have not been linked to the bacteria.

This bacterium is not contagious and can be successfully treated once it has been identified, according to hospital officials. However, NTM is a slow-growing organism and can take up to several months before it fully develops into an infection. In some cases it can take years before the infection is identified correctly.

Sheller, P.C. is representing clients who were injured and/or who are otherwise at risk for infection caused by the use of the heater-coolers at York Hospital and actively investigating the same issue which has occurred at Hershey. If you have been affected by this bacterial infection, call Sheller PC at 800-883-2299 for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

For more information:

Penn State Hershey Medical Center has established an informational website ( as well as a toll-free call center, 1-877-467-7484, which is dedicated to answering questions from patients and the community.

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