hospital negligence mold may have caused deaths at presby

Medical malpractice and wrongful death cases caused by hospital negligence can happen in all sorts of ways. Whether it is Legionnaire’s Disease believed to be caused by drinking water, or a serial infector like David Kwiatkowski who swaps out fentanyl with saline to get high, cases of negligence in the medical community are widespread. One thing we expect more than anything is for our hospitals to be clean. Recently, it was found that mold at UPMC Presbyterian may have been the cause of at least two deaths.

Two heart transplant patients at UPMC Presby contracted mold infections and died over the past year in what is the now closed off cardiothoracic intensive care unit. A third patient, who received a lung transplant, remains hospitalized at the hospital with a mold-related infection.

UPMC’s chief quality officer said that “This is really an evolving investigation,” and that she wants to be up front with everyone, contending she doesn’t have all the answers yet, but that her and her team are working as efficiently as possible to get to the bottom of the situation. She believes the deaths cannot be attributed to mold because both patients were already sick at the time. She would not give the patients’ identity, but said the families have been notified.

During October of last year, physicians found a mold infection on the left leg of a heart transplant patient. Three months ago, doctors discovered a different form of mold on the buttocks of another heart transplant patient. That patient suffered a mold infection on lung tissue. After his diagnosis, a physician reviewed prior cases and discovered the additional mold infections.

Two types of mold were identified-rhizomucor and lichtheimia. The most recent case involved rhizopus. A Pittsburgh-based infectious disease expert who serves as a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) says the molds are similar and can create infections. He says that when the mold occurs, it most often hits immunocompromised patients-otherwise, patients with poor or failing immune systems. He added that outcomes of these mold-related diseases are not good.

UPMC Presbyterian closed its cardiothoracic intensive care unit ten days ago, just five days after physicians diagnosed the lung transplant patient with a mold infection. As part of an investigation, workers opened a wall in the patients’ room where the mold was found. A definitive source of the mold has not yet been recognized, but mold was also found in toilets in rooms of the unit.

It is known that all three infected patients were treated in the same room. In total, fifty-six patients stayed in the room over last year. At this time, UPMC does not know of any other infections. In addition, mold has not been found in any other portion of the hospital, UPMC’s in Western PA.

If you believe you or a loved one was affected by hospital negligence while staying in Presby’s cardiothoracic ICU, or any other part of the hospital, contact the Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorneys at Richards & Richards today for a free consultation at 860-740-3999.

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