John Elmer Bosley, of Red Lion, and his wife filed a notice of medical negligence claim against York Hospital after he was allegedly exposed to a bacteria during surgery.

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A Red Lion man who underwent open-heart surgery at York Hospital filed a notice of medical negligence claim against York Hospital in relation to a "very poorly cleaned" device that's been connected to bacterial infections, according to court documents.

On Oct. 26, WellSpan sent letters to 1,300 patients who had open-heart surgery at York Hospital between Oct. 1, 2011, and July 24, 2015, alerting them of possible exposure to Nontuberculous mycobacteria, or NTM, in connection with a heater-cooler device used during surgery.

At the time of the release, WellSpan had identified eight patients with an NTM infection, four of whom had died. One additional infected patient has since died.

John Elmer Bosley, who filed the claim on Nov. 20 along with his wife, was not one of the eight that was identified, according to his attorney Donald Reihart.

Reihart said his office is still in the early stages of reviewing Bosley's medical records to determine if he has a valid case, but the notice was needed because Pennsylvania has 2-year statute of limitations for medical negligence cases, and Bosley's surgery took place in November 2013.

Reihart added that it's "probable" that Bosley, born in 1943, suffered "some harm."

Reihart, who has met with other potentially affected patients, said this is the first notice his office has filed against WellSpan's York Hospital in relation to these infections.

WellSpan spokesman Brett Marcy said the company is unable to comment on any details pending litigation.

The notice claims Bosley "was exposed to nontuberculous mycobacteria via a very poorly cleaned heater/cooler machine used during the surgery," but Reihart said his office wouldn't limit its investigation to just the NTM infection.

"The operating room became a vehicle for transmissions of diseases," Bosley said, pointing to WellSpan's admission that it did not clean its device according to manufacturer instructions. "To limit it to (NTM) infections isn't complete. I wouldn't rule out any infection (being caused by negligence)."

The devices, manufactured by German-based Sorin Group, have been linked to similar infections in Europe and Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Reihart said Bosley did not yet file a notice of claim with Sorin because the statute of limitation for manufacturers is longer. Reihart added that his impression is that a case against the manufacturer would be tougher to win because it gave its customers notice when it learned of its devices' potential connection to infections.

Sorin claims it sent an "Important Information" letter to its customers in July 2014 alerting them of the newly identified infection risk and reminding them of the importance of following its cleaning and disinfection procedures. WellSpan officials have been unable to confirm receipt of this letter.

Sorin issued a Field Safety Notice in June of this year alerting its customers of the potential risks and updated cleaning and disinfection procedures. The original process was about six steps, according to WellSpan spokesman Brett Marcy. The new process, posted in a video on Sorin's website, is 56 steps.

Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com.

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