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NSW cardiac machines linked to infection

AAP logoAAP 23/08/2016

Machines used in cardiac surgery at four Sydney hospitals have been replaced or sterilised following international reports of a rare infection found in the equipment, NSW Health authorities say.

Heater-cooler units made by Sorin have been linked to mycobacterium chimaera infections in patients who have undergone open heart surgery, with those who have undergone operations in the past five years thought to be at risk.

The four NSW public hospitals that used the potentially contaminated machines have been named as Prince of Wales, St George, Sydney Children's Hospital and The Children's Hospital at Westmead.

NSW Health authorities have assured patients the affected devices have been cleaned or replaced and the risk to patients from the infection is low.

"The risk of infections to an individual patient is very small, but it's important that we've alerted clinicians to the risk and put systems in place to reduce the risk further," infectious disease specialist Dr Kate Clezy, from the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission, said in a statement on Tuesday.

It's thought the devices were contaminated during manufacture.

NSW cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Hugh Wolfeden said the precautionary measures should not scare away patients.

"Cardiac surgery is essential ... the risk from these infections is far less than the risk of not doing the surgery," he said.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has advised NSW Health of a possible patient infection linked to the contaminated units in Australia, but there have been no reported infections in NSW.

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