More than 1,400 Minnesota veterans received certified letters in the mail in December notifying them they are at risk of a potentially deadly infection. It is part of a massive effort by hospitals nationwide to warn patients that equipment used in many heart surgeries may have been contaminated with a dangerous bacteria. This is not an issue isolated to the VA and veterans. Back in October, the CDC warned that heater-cooler units used during open heart surgeries to keep a patient's circulating blood at a specific temperature may have been contaminated in the manufacturing process. Since then, hospitals all across the country have been notifying patients about a possible infection called nontuberculous mycobacterium (NTM). Half a million patients nationwide may be at risk.
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