Hospital mishandled Legionnaires' test of dying Illinois VA home resident, lawsuit says

Quincy, Ill.-based Blessing Hospital faces a lawsuit accusing its staff of mishandling tests of a veterans' home resident dying of Legionnaires' disease in fall 2017, according to WBEZ.

The lawsuit, filed by the family of Valdemar "Roy" Dehn, alleges Blessing Hospital staff did not carry out a test for Legionnaires' disease when it was ordered on Oct. 8, 2017. Mr. Dehn was tested three days later, after another physician questioned why the test was uncompleted and ordered a second test, the lawsuit states. The lawsuit further alleges Mr. Dehn tested positive for Legionnaires' disease the next day, about eight hours before his death.

The family filed a separate lawsuit last week against the state of Illinois for its handling of a Legionnaires' outbreak at the Illinois veterans' facility where Mr. Dehn was residing. The facility experienced three separate outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease between 2015 and 2017, causing 64 infections and 13 deaths. The state faces a lawsuit from 12 families for neglect related to the death of a loved one at the veterans' home, according to WBEZ.

The Dehn family's lawsuit also names Zorian Trusewych, MD, medical director of the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy. The lawsuit claims Dr. Trusewych failed to test Mr. Dehn in the months leading up to the 2017 outbreak while other residents began testing positive for Legionnaires'.

Blessing Hospital did not immediately respond to WBEZ's request for comment. The office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, which is representing Dr. Trusewych in the case, told the publication it is reviewing the complaint.

Legionnaires' is a virulent form of pneumonia contracted through the inhalation of water carrying Legionella. Those with weakened immune systems like the elderly are at greater risk of infection. In January, the CDC issued a report on the water system at the Quincy VA facility. In the report, researchers said Legionella may never be fully eradicated from the facility's water system and warned that additional Legionnaires' cases could be inevitable.

Brian Zimmerman contributed to this article.

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