UPMC, laundry provider sued again over mold outbreak

Pittsburgh-based UPMC and Paris Cleaners, the health system's linen services provider, are facing yet another lawsuit over a mold outbreak discovered in 2015.


According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the family of Katherine Landman, a UPMC Shadyside patient who died in 2015 after contracting a mold infection in the hospital, filed the suit in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas against the two organizations for wrongful death and negligence.

This is the seventh case involving UPMC patients who died in the mold outbreak while at UPMC hospitals between October 2014 and October 2016, according to the Post-Gazette.

The lawsuit is similar to one filed in February because it involves UPMC Shadyside and Paris Cleaners. Previous cases involved patients at UPMC Montefiore and UPMC Presbyterian.

UPMC said in February it did not believe the patients at UPMC Shadyside contracted the infections inside the hospital. In regards to the most recent lawsuit, UPMC said in a statement to Becker's, "Our hospitals are safe, and our ongoing monitoring and testing show no evidence of concerning mold infections. We and the nation's top health regulators have found no definitive cause of the previous infections, which are known to occur on occasion at hospitals in the U.S. UPMC has gone above and beyond any existing guidelines and CDC recommendations for assuring the safety of our patients in implementing strategies to prevent these infections and in reporting these infections when they are discovered."

Paris Cleaners is involved in the suit because an internal UPMC investigation report made public in January says linens delivered by Paris to a UPMC hospital had "heavy" presence of fungus that later infected UPMC patients. However, the CDC did not reopen its investigation into the cause of the mold outbreak after the report was made public.

A surprise state inspection in February found linen storage issues at UPMC Shadyside, which the hospital is working to correct.

In a statement to Becker's, Paris CEO Dave Stern expressed sympathy for the families of the deceased but stood firm that his company's linens did not cause the infections. "The CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health have both said the facts don't support the conclusion that these infections resulted from exposure to linens. We stand by these statements from our public agencies. Our products are safe. We have followed and we continue to follow protocols of the Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council. Our reputation has been earned over three decades by providing safe, hygienically clean linens to more than 100 hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout the region."

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