Laundry provider responds in UPMC mold case: 9 things to know

After an internal report commissioned by Pittsburgh-based UPMC pointed to its outsourced laundry provider as the possible cause of a deadly mold outbreak that temporarily shut down UPMC's transplant program in 2015, the laundry provider has been roped into at least three lawsuits.

Here are nine things to know on the matter.

1. A UPMC report completed in May 2016 and made public in January says linen delivered to a UPMC hospital from DuBois, Pa.-based Paris Cleaners had "heavy" presence of a type of fungus that later infected patients at UPMC, according to Trib Live. The report also found fungus on the roof of Paris Cleaners near air intakes and noted sheets delivered to UPMC were wet, according to the report.

2. The Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council, which accredits Paris Cleaners and other laundry companies, said the council's standards "deal with processing healthcare laundry in the safest manner possible for patient safety, staff safety and employee safety."

3. Since the UPMC report was made public, Paris Cleaners was named as a defendant in at least three lawsuits brought by families of patients affected by the mold outbreak at UPMC, including one suit filed in February by a family of a sixth patient who the family says contracted a fungal infection at a UPMC hospital before he died.

4. Now, Paris Cleaners' attorneys have issued a response as part of the lawsuits, in which the company "expressly denies that any linens were contaminated with mold at its facility," according to Trib Live.

5. The cleaners' response pins responsibility on UPMC. "UPMC — not Paris — had a duty to ensure that appropriate linens were provided to immunosuppressed patients," the lawyers wrote, according to Trib Live.

6. UPMC issued a response, according to Trib Live, which reads: "Our ongoing monitoring and testing show no evidence of a mold outbreak. We've gone above and beyond any existing guidelines and CDC recommendations for preventing these infections. However we will address the specific allegations in this case in court and not in the media."

7. An attorney who brought the suit against Paris Cleaners on behalf of the families of patients who were infected in the outbreak also issued a response to Trib Live. "We are disappointed that Paris has chosen to point the finger at UPMC instead of accepting any responsibility despite the conditions at the laundry facility described" in the UPMC report, Brendan Lupetin said.

8. The CDC will not further investigate UPMC's mold outbreak, despite the new information about the linens. In May 2016, the CDC concluded the mold infections were caused by improper use of negative-pressure rooms.

9. UPMC still uses Paris as its laundry provider.

Correction: This story was updated Feb. 24. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the UPMC report said a ventilation system at Paris Cleaners blew fungus onto linens that were later delivered to UPMC. That point (No. 1) has been updated with accurate information. We regret the error.

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