Everything you need to know about Seattle Children's mold issues

Three lawsuits were filed Dec. 2 against Seattle Children's Hospital, the latest developments relating to longstanding mold issues in the facility's operating rooms, according to The Seattle Times.

Here's everything you need to know:  

1. Seattle Children's postponed and diverted surgeries this May after detecting Aspergillus mold in its operating rooms. A few weeks later, the hospital announced that one patient had died and five had been sickened by mold in the past two years.

2. The family of a teenage patient filed a lawsuit against Seattle Children's Oct. 25, claiming a 2018 mold-related infection disabled their son, according to The Seattle Times.

3. Aspergillus was found again at Seattle Children's Nov. 10, sickening one patient, with other potential cases under investigation. 

4. The system that circulates air through the hospital's operating rooms is now thought to be the cause of 14 mold infections and six deaths dating back to 2001, Jeff Sperring, MD, Seattle Children's CEO, announced Nov. 18. The hospital is scheduled to install custom in-room high efficiency particulate air filters in 10 operating rooms and two equipment storage rooms by the end of January.  

5. Former hospital employees said they discovered mold and dead birds in the air system as early as 2001. Seattle Children's carefully investigated each mold-related infection but the results were inconclusive until this year, Lindsay Kurs, a hospital spokesperson, told The Seattle Times Nov. 25. 

6. A lawsuit was filed Dec. 2 on behalf of four children, all of whom allegedly were sickened by the hospital mold between 2005 and 2017. Attorneys are seeking class-action status to eventually include all Seattle Children's patients sickened by the mold since 2000. The lawsuit 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."

7. The family of an 11-year-old boy filed a separate lawsuit Dec. 2, claiming he contracted a mold-related infection during surgery at Seattle Children's in March and was not diagnosed until May.

8. Another lawsuit, also filed Dec. 2, alleges that a 4-year-old boy had to undergo a second brain surgery at Seattle-based Harborview Medical Center in May because physicians deemed him to be at "high risk for Aspergillus mold exposure" from the initial Seattle Children's surgery.

9. It is not known if the patients involved in the lawsuits are among the 14 cases Seattle Children's has disclosed. 

"We are incredibly sorry for the hurt experienced by these families and regret that recent developments have caused additional grief," Kathryn Mueller, a spokesperson for Seattle Children's, told The Seattle Times. "Out of respect for privacy, we do not intend to share details about our patients or comment on specific cases or legal action."

Editor's note: Becker's reached out to Seattle Children's for comment and will update this story as more information becomes available. 

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