New lawsuit alleges mold killed 2 more patients at third UPMC hospital

The family of a patient at UPMC Shadyside hospital in Pittsburgh who contracted a fungal infection and later died has filed a lawsuit against UPMC and its laundry provider alleging negligence, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

This is the first time UPMC Shadyside has been implicated in the mold outbreak that briefly shut down UPMC's transplant program in 2015 and was blamed for five patient deaths — the previous five patients were in UPMC Montefiore and UPMC Presbyterian.

The lawsuit also mentions another unnamed patient who allegedly died at Shadyside in 2015 after getting a fungal infection, bringing the total number of patients who died at UPMC hospitals during the mold outbreak to seven.

The family of John R. Haines filed the lawsuit on Tuesday. Mr. Haines was being treated for leukemia at UPMC Shadyside in September when he contracted a rhizopus-positive pneumonia infection, according to a CNN report. He died in the hospital in October, according to the report.

The lawsuit is also against Dubois, Pa.-based Paris Cleaners, which handles the laundry for UPMC hospitals. An internal report from UPMC made public in January as part of another lawsuit found the laundry facility's ventilation system blew fungus onto linens later delivered to UPMC hospitals, which could have caused the fungal infections.

UPMC maintains that the two new patients mentioned in the new lawsuit did not acquire their fungal infections inside UPMC Shadyside, even though the hospital sent a letter to Mr. Haines before he died acknowledging the rhizopus mold infection developed while he was at Shadyside.

In a statement to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a UPMC spokeswoman said, "We do not believe these two patients actually contracted rhizopus infections at Shadyside as other sources (latent colonization and pre-existing sinus fungal infection) were the most likely causes. … Clinically, it's unlikely either patient contracted their infections in the hospital."

The CDC does not plan to reopen an investigation into UPMC. A previous CDC report pointed to UPMC's improper use of negative pressure rooms as the cause of the fungal infections.

See the full lawsuit and more information in the Post-Gazette.

More articles on infection control:
How far do germs travel after a sneeze? It's farther than you think
Bedside hand hygiene improves when extra healthcare workers are present, study shows
New antibiotic combinations prove effective against E. coli

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