By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–Legal action is being taken against Penn Health following an infection outbreak linked to surgical equipment.

There have been thousands of cases nationally and here in Philadelphia, open heart surgery patients with infections following surgery.

Bob Gerngross, 60, is worried about the future.

The Montgomery County electrical contractor hasn’t been able to work for a year.

“I’m upset, it’s wiped my out financially,” he said.

He has a dangerous bacterial infection called “Non-tuberculous Mycobacterium” or NTM.

He takes antibiotics and more, but still suffers with fatigue and breathing difficulty.

He blames Penn Health, where he had heart value replacement surgery in February 2015.

A heating-cooling device used during the operation has been linked to NTM infections around the county. The FDA is investigating and there’s a warning from the CDC to alert hospitals and patients.

“Once it was discovered it could and should have been prevented. The machinery should have been taken out of the stream of commerce,” said Michael Barrett, who’s representing Gerngross and others.

He has filed lawsuits against the maker of the device and Penn Health.

Barrett says they knew the equipment was dangerous and didn’t do anything to protect patients.

“We think this is outrageous because it was clearly preventable. Mr.  Gerngross and other  clients and other patients who were similarly situated were exposed to tremendous risk totally unnecessary without reason,” Barrett said.

For Bob he’s worried about his 7-year-old son Jake not knowing if he’ll ever recover, ever be able to be the kind of dad he wants to be .

A spokesperson for Penn Health says they can’t comment on pending litigation, but says the equipment in question has not been used there for 2 years.


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