Mold at children's hospital in Seattle killed 1, sickened 5

Henrietta Strickland
July 4, 2019

A unsafe type of mold has killed one patient and infected five more at Seattle Children's Hospital, the health center announced Tuesday, prompting it to close all 14 of its operating rooms indefinitely.

Gaps in air filtration is believed to have been key in the presence of mold, Bernal said.

"We are deeply saddened that one of our patients died after developing an Aspergillus infection in 2018", a statement from Bernal to Q13 News reads. The death occurred past year.

The hospital said it is deep cleaning the rooms and replacing equipment for air purification and humidification.

"For most patients, the risk is very low that they could get an infection", he said. "The infections we had were in very specific types of procedures, but out of the caution that we have to make sure everybody is safe, we've closed everything".

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Aspergillus is a common mold found both indoors and outdoors. But people with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of developing infections in the lungs or sinuses from the mold.

Seattle Children's has also been dealing with a case of measles. The mold is unsafe to those with weak immune systems, according to the hospital. She would not say whether mold was detected in those rooms.

The hospital spokesperson said operating rooms will not reopen until officials are confident they are safe.

About 1,000 surgeries have been postponed and others have been relocated. Most surgeries have been moved to Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical Center, Swedish Medical Center and Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma. UW Medical Center has performed 12 operations and is taking others on a case-by-case basis, she added.

The children's hospital first became aware of the mold problem when patients who had surgeries in March and April of past year developed infections, Del Beccaro said. Mold spores floating in the air can get into bodies opened up for surgery, then slowly turn into an infection once the wound is closed, he added.

Mold infections in hospitals have had fatal consequences before.

"We believed that the work we had done to those rooms had solved the problem", he said.

The Seattle Times first reported the death. The CDC issued no report after it determined Children's was taking appropriate actions to investigate and address the problem, Apa said. Washington state Department of Health investigators also checked out the hospital and offered suggestions on how to improve air quality, which the hospital followed, Bernal wrote.

After a brief closure, Seattle Children's Hospital announced on Wednesday that operating rooms are now free of Aspergillus mold. The hospital told the Seattle Times that its operating rooms have been infected with the mold off and on for a year or so, "likely because of deficiencies in the operating rooms' air handling and purification systems", the Times reports.

Six days later, those operating rooms were also closed.

CMS said it is still reviewing the hospital's submitted plan to correct the issues.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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