A patient at Seattle Children’s Hospital died, and five more were infected after mold was discovered in several operating rooms during a routine air test on the hospital in May.
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found the hospital in violation of two dozen federal regulations and hospital policy and notified the hospital on June 20 that they were facing potential termination of its Medicare provider agreement.
The federal violations include a failure to properly maintain air filtering systems that fed to operating rooms, failure to inspect or calibrate monitoring equipment and failure to approve and implement an infection prevention improvement plan.
After the Aspergillus mold was detected, the hospital was forced to close its operating rooms and notify at least 3,000 patients and families who had had surgery in the four months preceding the air quality issues emerging.
The patients were advised “to watch for signs of infection,” according to a statement on the hospital’s website. “We continue to closely monitor patients who may have been impacted.”
“On May 18, after routine air testing detected Aspergillus in several operating rooms and equipment storage rooms, we promptly closed the affected spaces and brought in outside industrial hygienists to investigate the source of the Aspergillus,” the hospital said. “We then closed the remainder of our operating rooms on May 24 when we determined that deficiencies in our air handler were likely contributing to the air quality issues. Closing all the operating rooms allowed us to physically access the air handling system in order to implement improvements and corrective actions.
“We self-reported the air quality issues to the Department of Health on May 20. We welcomed the Department of Health for a three day visit the following week. During their visit the inspectors identified areas for improvement that we are addressing as part of our overall mitigation efforts. We are confident we will be able to successfully address their findings.”
The operating rooms are scheduled to reopen on Thursday, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mark Del Beccaro, even as the hospital’s plan of correction, submitted to the federal agency on June 27, is pending approval.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.