A timeline of all mold-related events at Seattle Children's Hospital

Since 2005, Seattle Children's Hospital has faced sporadic mold outbreaks. Below is a timeline tracking key events as the hospital worked to figure out the source of the deadly mold. 

2005: Detection of mold, 1st lawsuit

Seattle Children's discovered Aspergillus mold in an operating room while investigating the source of three infections, according to The Seattle Times. An outbreak response team didn't think the mold caused the infections and cited a moldy nitrogen tank as the source. 

Around the same time, a couple filed a lawsuit claiming their 12-year-old daughter was permanently disabled after being sickened by mold at the hospital. The case was settled in 2008.

2018: Health officials told of mold-related infections

Seattle Children's told county health officials about the infections, some dating back to 2001, KOMO News reported. Officials didn't publicly announce the infections at the time because they appeared unrelated to each other.  

May 18, 2019: Mold forces Seattle Children's to close 4 ORs 

Seattle Children's shut down four ORs, postponing or diverting surgeries, after detecting mold, KIRO 7 reported. The hospital notified 3,000 patients and worked with an industrial hygienist to investigate the source, according to Mark Del Beccaro, MD, then the CMO of Seattle Children's.

June 20, 2019: Seattle Children's cited for safety violations after patient death

CMS and the state health department both found patient safety violations related to mold in the ORs after a death and five other infections were reported over a two-year span, according to King 5

CMS informed the hospital June 20 that its Medicare contract could be terminated if the deficiencies weren't fixed. The hospital installed new air handler and humidification systems, implemented a new disinfectant process and sealed potential air leaks, The Seattle Times reported.

July 1, 2019: Seattle Children's closes all 14 ORS

The hospital closed all its ORs as it worked to remove mold, according to The Seattle Times.

July 4, 2019: Seattle Children's reopens main ORs without CMS correction plan approval

Daily air tests showed the ORs were safe, CMO Dr. Del Beccaro said July 3, according to The Washington Post.

Oct. 25, 2019: Another lawsuit filed  

The family of a teenage patient sued Seattle Children's, claiming a 2018 mold infection disabled their son, according to The Seattle Times.

Nov. 7, 2019: State questions lack of air filter in OR; another infection confirmed

After a mold-related infection was confirmed Nov. 7 in an infant, the Washington Department of Health interviewed hospital leadership, according to King 5. In October, the baby underwent cardiac surgery in an OR without a high-efficiency particulate air filter. Seattle Children's said the CMO and chief surgeon decided to reopen the ORs to cardiac cases after consulting infection prevention and heart care teams, and that the specific OR had consistently tested negative for mold.

Nov. 10, 2019: Seattle Children's closes ORs again 

The hospital closed three ORs and two procedural areas after mold was discovered again, KOMO News reported. All 14 ORs were eventually shut down as the hospital investigated the source.

Nov. 12, 2019: No violations found during state inspection of hospital  

"There was no legal requirement for having a HEPA filter in the operating room," Lisa Stromme, a Washington Department of Health spokesperson, told King 5. 

Nov. 18, 2019: Seattle Children's CEO discloses 6 patient deaths linked to mold

Since 2001, 14 patients were sickened by the mold and six died, Jeff Sperring, MD, CEO of Seattle Children's Hospital, said Nov. 18, according to The Seattle Times. An air-handling system in the ORs was cited as the suspected cause. The hospital planned to keep its ORs closed through January, using that time to install in-room HEPA systems, KOMO News reported. 

Nov. 22, 2019: Mold outbreak prompts new infection-reporting requirements

Healthcare facilities in King County, Wash., will be required to report hospital-acquired mold infections, officials announced Nov. 22, according to KOMO News. Previously, only outbreaks of two or more mold cases had to be reported, while singular cases did not.

Dec. 2, 2019: Three lawsuits filed against Seattle Children's hospital  

A class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of three former patients, claiming the patients were exposed to mold due to the hospital's negligence, KIRO 7 reported. The suit claims hospital leaders engaged in years of "cover-up, designed to reassure its patients, doctors, nurses and the public that its premises were safe, when in fact they were not."

The family of an 11-year-old boy filed a separate lawsuit, claiming he contracted a mold-related infection during surgery at Seattle Children's, The Seattle Times reported.

Another lawsuit claims a 4-year-old boy had to undergo a second brain surgery elsewhere because he was deemed to be at "high risk for Aspergillus mold exposure" from an initial Seattle Children's surgery.

"We are incredibly sorry for the hurt experienced by these families and regret that recent developments have caused additional grief," Kathryn Mueller, spokesperson for Seattle Children's, told The Seattle Times.  

Jan. 8, 2020: Seattle Children's in compliance with all regulations 

A state health department investigation found the hospital in compliance regarding governance, physical environment, infection control and quality assurance, according to KIRO 7. However, the state did verify the presence of mold and "serious mitigation efforts" to address it.

Jan. 8, 2020: Another family joins class-action suit against Seattle Children's

Katha and Micah Hutt joined the class-action lawsuit after their 5-month-old daughter fell ill from mold, KIRO 7 reports. The Hutts say their daughter contracted mold during one or both of her surgeries in August or November 2019.

Jan 10, 2020: Seattle Children's top physician resigns

Dr. Del Beccaro, former CMO and senior vice president of Seattle Children's Hospital, resigned, King 5 reported.

Feb. 12, 2020: 7th mold-related death at Seattle Children's reported

Elizabeth Hutt, a 6-month-old baby, died Feb. 12 after developing a mold-related infection at Seattle Children's, according to KOMO News. 

Feb. 20, 2020: Seattle Children's sues to block release of health records 

Seattle Children's filed a lawsuit to block the release of health department records regarding mold at its facility, according to King 5.  

Feb. 24, 2020: Humidifier tied to deadly mold at Seattle Children's, CDC says

The CDC identified a humidifier that had been turned off for over 10 years and then switched on again in 2018 and 2019 as the cause of the mold outbreaks at Seattle Children's, according to King 5. The hospital has been making "comprehensive improvements" to its ORs since receiving the CDC report.

Feb. 28, 2020: Judge orders release of Seattle Children's mold records, scolds health department

A judge who had previously ruled in favor of the hospital's request to seal records concerning recurrent mold issues changed his mind, ruling that health department files must be publicly released, according to King 5. The judge scolded Public Health of Seattle and King County for staying silent for several months and said he may unseal records previously ruled upon.

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