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Seattle Children’s details mold outbreaks dating back to 2001

Seattle Children's Hospital. (Seattle Children's courtesy photo)

Seattle Children’s Hospital revealed Monday a history of mold infections dating all the way back to 2001, affecting seven additional patients.

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Originally, the hospital suspected the cases were isolated incidents, but it now believes that seven infections between 2001 and 2014 might be connected to recent cases seen in 2019. The cases were each reported through the proper channels at the time they occurred.

The hospital had already reported seven other cases of mold infection since 2018, the latest coming after Seattle Children’s was forced to close its operating rooms for the second time in 2019, after once again detecting the presence of the Aspergillus mold in November.

Tests run on Nov. 10 showed Aspergillus in the air in three operating rooms and two procedural areas. All 10 of its operated rooms will remain closed through January to deal with the outbreak.

The hospital plans to install custom air filtration in each operating room, as well as in two equipment storage rooms. The system being used is described by Seattle Children’s as the most thorough filtration technology currently available on the market. Those installations were originally slated to be finished in July.

“We must go to a higher standard, and we must do it now,” said Seattle Children’s CEO Dr. Jeff Sperring during a Monday morning press conference.

The hospital had initially closed its main operating rooms on May 18 after testing positive for Aspergillus. The remaining 10 were closed six days later. The hospital touted “extensive improvements and corrective actions” after the rooms were reopened on July 4.

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In addition to the one reported death from that early-2019 incident, Seattle Children’s reported five additional infections at the time. Three of the affected patients were infected in 2018, while the other three contracted infections from the mold sometime before the rooms were closed in May.

It’s not clear at this time what exactly has been causing these outbreaks, although Monday’s announcement details a recurring issue spanning almost a decade-and-a-half.

“We will get this right,” Dr. Sperring promised.

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