Beth Hutt is fighting an Aspergillus infection at Seattle Children’s. She is just five months old, and has had three open heart surgeries at Children’s since August. Now the family is filing a class action lawsuit against the hospital.
The suit alleges hospital managers have known since at least 2005 that a potentially deadly mold could be related to the facility’s air-handling system, but failed to remedy the problem.
Airborne Aspergillus mold was found in five hospital operating rooms in Seattle Children’s Hospital. This is the 2nd time the hospital has closed all 14 of its operating rooms due to mold.
Earlier this year the hospital replaced its air filtration system after aspergillus mold exposure caused the death on one patient. Five other patients were also infected. The State Department of Health is investigating.
The hospital is investigating and sanitizing its air filter system and deep-cleaning the operating rooms. A hospital spokesperson said they’re monitoring patients who would be at high-risk to mold exposure, but did not say how many patients were exposed.
More than a dozen years ago, Eugene and Clarissa Patnode drew a direct connection between the hospital’s air-filtration system and their 12-year-old daughter’s Aspergillus infection that left her permanently disabled after brain surgery.
The family sued Children’s in 2005. Lawyers for the Patnodes gathered extensive evidence, including testimony from former staffers about the condition and maintenance of air-handling units serving the operating rooms. The hospital and the family settled in August 2008 for an undisclosed sum.
Now, Children’s is facing similar litigation. The parents of a teenage boy sued the hospital late last month, alleging the hospital “failed to take reasonably prudent measures to prevent Aspergillus from infecting” their son, leaving him disabled.
After seven infections and one death were connected to Aspergillus mold and problems with the air-handling system, Children’s said it looked retroactively at previous cases, and found seven more illnesses and five deaths between 2001 and 2014.
In recent years, Children’s has faced scrutiny from regulators over the steps it takes to guard against infections. In October 2017, inspectors with the state Department of Health cited the hospital for a serious violation over its failure to “implement and monitor an effective infection prevention program.”
To read the entire article written by Paige Browning and published by KUOW.org, click here.