UPMC stops organ transplants to investigate, contain mold problem

UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh has announced it is voluntarily stopping all transplants while hospital officials and state and federal infectious control experts investigate a mold outbreak, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

The hospital released a statement regarding the matter, that reads, "In consultation with the United Network for Organ Sharing, the nonprofit organization that manages the nation's organ transplant system, UPMC has chosen to voluntarily and temporarily suspend all organ transplant operations at UPMC Presbyterian until we have completed our investigation and are satisfied that we've done all we can do to address the situation."

UPMC is dealing with a mold problem that is potentially linked to four infections and three deaths of transplant patients at UPMC Presbyterian and UPMC Montefiore.

The first sign of trouble came on Sept. 3, when UPMC Presbyterian staff discovered a lung transplant patient in its 20-bed cardiothoracic ICU got an infection from mold. In response, the hospital closed the affected ICU and relocated patients. They also had investigators examine the unit, which turned up mold behind the wall of one ICU room and in toilets of the other ICU rooms.

The incident also prompted hospital staff to review the records of previous transplant patients who had stayed in the ICU, upon which they discovered two more individuals, heart transplant patients, who contracted fungal infections possibly linked to the mold and later died.

Then, on Sept. 17, a liver transplant patient at UPMC Montefiore died. This patient appears to have had a fungal infection similar to the other three affected patients.

Thus far, it has not been confirmed whether the mold was the cause behind the four patients' infections. The exact location of the source of the mold is also unknown at this time, and infection control experts are investigating the air seals around windows and doors, medical equipment, air filters and hospital laundry, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Steven D. Shapiro, MD, UPMC chief medical and scientific officer, noted in the hospital statement that all linens for immunocompromised patients will remain completely sealed in plastic from the moment they leave the cleaning facility until they arrive in the ICU, as a precautionary measure.

To read the full UPMC statement, click here.



More articles on the UPMC mold outbreak:
UPMC probes link between mold, patient deaths: 7 things to know [Updated]
Week in review: 8 biggest healthcare stories this week

Mold shuts down an ICU at UPMC Presbyterian

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