UPMC finds mold at outsourced laundry facility; presents possible link to 5 patient deaths

Mold on bed linens supplied by an outsourced provider may have been the cause of fungal infections at Pittsburgh-based UPMC that contributed to the deaths of five transplant patients and temporarily shut down UPMC's transplant program in 2015.

DuBois, Pa.-based Paris Healthcare Linen Services provides laundry services to all of UPMC's hospitals. An internal report commissioned by UPMC, completed in May 2016 and filed in court documents Thursday shows the ventilation system at the laundry facility blew fungus onto linens later delivered to UPMC, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The mold found on the linens was similar to what infected five patients at UPMC hospitals. The mold crisis caused UPMC to temporarily shut down its solid organ transplant program in 2015.

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A definitive source for the mold was never found, but a CDC investigation pointed to improper use of negative pressure rooms as one cause of the infections.

A CDC spokesman told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that "it's safe to say we'll take a look at the new report…and if necessary we'll follow up."

Though the system said it "cannot comment on these allegations," UPMC addressed the new information in a Thursday blog post.

"Despite the lack of a definitive source, UPMC still went above and beyond state and federal recommendations in order to implement changes to protect our patients," the blog post reads. "One of the many changes includes provisions of specially treated bioburden-reduced linens to our highest risk transplant patients."

UPMC filed the investigative report in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas as part of two wrongful death lawsuits it is currently facing, according to the Tribune-Review. The system continues to use Paris as its laundry provider.

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