A 70-year-old transplant patient who had contracted a fungal infection from mold while he was a patient in a Pennsylvania hospital has died. The man, who was the fourth patient to have become infected with mold last year while a patient at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (“UPMC”), died in the hospital last Saturday from multi-organ failure due to sepsis, which his death certificate described as death due to natural causes. The other three patients who had been infected with mold had previously died.
The man had filed a Pennsylvania medical malpractice case in January 2016 against UPMC, alleging that he contracted the fungal-sourced mold infection while he was a transplant patient in a negative-pressure room in UPMC’s ICU. All four patients who allegedly contracted a mold infection in the hospital were transplant patients, and two of the other patients were also in the negative pressure room in the ICU. The patients were placed in the negative-pressure room in the hospital’s ICU despite not being infectious themselves because other beds were not available for them in the ICU, according to the hospital. Three of the seven patients who stayed in the negative-pressure room during the relevant time period contracted fungal infections.
The CDC had investigated the UPMC mold cases and issued a preliminary report on December 21, 2015. The Pennsylvania Department of Health (“Department”) issued a statement the next day discussing the CDC’s preliminary report, stating that it had asked the CDC in September 2015 to investigate a cluster of four cases of mucormycosis at UPMC, which is a rare infection caused by a group of environmental molds that are usually acquired through inhaling mold spores in the air, that occurred over the course of a year among UPMC transplant patients (transplant patients are at increased risk of infection because their immune systems have been suppressed or weakened).
The Department stated that the investigation was completed on October 7, 2015, and identified no additional infections as well as no single source to account for all four reported cases. However, three of the four infected patients spent a significant amount of their hospitalization in the same negative-pressure ICU room that is designed to draw air from outside the room into the room, which may have exposed patients to mold spores that were present in the surrounding environment. The CDC’s environmental testing of the room identified some common environmental molds but no mucormycetes (however, the unit in which the negative-pressure room was located had already been closed at the time of the investigation and was undergoing remediation to address any potential mold sources that limited the testing that could be performed).
At the time the CDC issued its preliminary report, the CDC stated that it would release the final report in the summer of 2016.
If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury (or worse) due to hospital malpractice in Pennsylvania or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a hospital malpractice lawyer in Pennsylvania or a hospital malpractice lawyer in your state who may investigate your hospital malpractice claim for you and represent you in a hospital medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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