Open-Heart Surgery Important Information

For Patients

We are contacting approximately 2,300 patients who had an open-heart surgery procedure at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in the past four years.

We have learned that three patients who had open-heart surgery during this time became sick with a rare bacterial infection. This type of bacteria is called Nontuberculous Mycobacteria, or NTM. NTM grows slowly and is commonly found in soil and water, including tap water. It is usually not harmful, but in some cases it can cause infections in patients who have had invasive health care procedures – such as open-heart surgery – and those who may have weakened immune systems.

We want to explain what occurred and reassure you that we, along with the physicians and nurses in our organization and community, will do as much as we can to answer your questions and address your concerns. We have set up a dedicated clinic to evaluate patients who had specific types of open-chest heart surgery at Penn State Hershey from Nov. 5, 2011 to Nov. 5, 2015 and communicated information about this clinic to patients and their providers by mail. To learn more, read our updated patient letter below, or call us toll-free at 1-877-467-7484.

If you have any other questions or concerns about this matter beyond the information on this site or want to speak with someone about any additional health care evaluations you may need, please call our toll-free line, 1-877-467-7484.

Additional Resources

State and Federal Resources Regarding NTM Bacteria and Heater-Cooler Units

European Resources Regarding NTM Bacteria and Infections in Open-Heart Surgery Patients

Information about infections linked to heater-cooler devices at Wellspan York Hospital

Information Regarding an NTM Outbreak at Greenville Health System in South Carolina

Information for Medical Professionals