Family sues Seattle Children's over mold in ORs; child still hospitalized

The parents of a hospitalized infant filed a lawsuit against Seattle Children's Hospital April 14, claiming negligence after their son's heart was infected with mold at the hospital, The Seattle Times reports.

Hayley Seymour's son was 6 days old when he had open-heart surgery Oct. 1 at Seattle Children's. A month later, he was fighting for his life against a hospital-acquired mold infection. Now, amid the pandemic, the infant is still being treated at Seattle Children's for respiratory and heart failure.  

Since 2005, Seattle Children's Hospital has faced sporadic mold outbreaks, with seven patient deaths tied to mold infections at the facility. The Seymours' suit is the most recent move in a string of legal action taken against the hospital regarding the mold since 2005.

The infant's procedure didn't have to occur immediately and didn't have to happen at Seattle Children's, Ms. Seymour told The Seattle Times. The family wouldn't have had the procedure at the hospital if it knew about the history of mold, but no one from Seattle Children's informed them of the issues, the suit claims.

The hospital's air monitoring went beyond legal requirements but still failed to detect mold in operating rooms more than a month after the Seymour baby's surgery, according to an investigation by the State Department of Health. 

Seattle Children's infection control department wanted to limit high-risk surgeries to ORs with high-efficiency particulate air filters, the investigation found. However, the hospital opened other ORs in September for heart cases, citing negative air samples and space and staffing considerations that could affect patient safety, the report shows. The OR where the Seymours' son had his procedure did not have a HEPA filter.

In November, after confirming mold had infected the baby's surgical site, air samples confirmed the presence of mold and the hospital once again closed its ORs.

When The Seattle Times asked Seattle Children's about the Seymours' lawsuit, the hospital referred to a page on its website explaining steps taken to address the mold problem.

Click here for a timeline of all mold-related events at Seattle Children's Hospital.

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