Humidifier tied to deadly mold at Seattle Children's, CDC says

The CDC identified an old humidifier as the cause of the mold outbreak at Seattle Children's Hospital that resulted in seven patient deaths, according to King 5. 

The humidifier had been turned off for more than 10 years and then was switched on again in 2018 and 2019. The CDC reported that the humidifier, part of an operating room's air handling unit, had been turned on before the two mold outbreaks, according to King 5. 

The report said the droplets produced by the humidifier were too large to be diffused by the hospital's air ventilation system, allowing for condensation and mold growth.  

The mold has infected 14 patients and resulted in seven deaths since 2001, with the most recent death on Feb. 12, 2020. The system that circulated air through the operating rooms was initially thought to be the cause of the outbreak, Jeff Sperring, MD, CEO of Seattle Children's Hospital, announced Nov. 18, according to The Seattle Times.

Seattle Children's has been making "comprehensive improvements" to its ORs since receiving the CDC report, according to a Feb. 24 statement cited by King 5. 

"We have installed a new rooftop air handling system," the statement reads. "We have also installed in-room [high-efficiency particulate air] filtration systems in our ORs that removes 99.97 percent of particles from the air passing through the filter; this is the highest level of filtration found in ORs today."

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

More articles on infection control:
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