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Pittsburgh Hospital Pumps Fungal Air Into Patients Rooms

When a patient visits a hospital, it is perfectly reasonable for them to assume that they will not be leaving the site of care in worse condition. Many hospitals make use of an internal ventilation or air filtration system to prevent the spread of infectious airborne diseases. The helpful functions of this system, however, come undone when the hospital has an issue in the system that jeopardizes the filtration of the air.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has recently had such an issue. One of the hospital’s ventilation systems has been flagged. The system was involved with a deadly mold outbreak in years past. The rooms that this particular system connects to should be avoided by patients suffering from conditions that cause weakened immune systems. The CDC has been conducting investigations at two UPMC locations following a mold crisis that has been linked to four deaths. These locations rely on “negative pressure” systems, that make use of a method that pulls outside air into a room. Typically, these negative pressure systems are intended to prevent the hospital’s spread of infectious diseases. Unfortunately for the patients affected at these UPMC locations, the system funneled toxic mold air into the room, and their lungs.

The toxic mold infections lasted for about an entire year, and resulted in UPMC having to shut down its transplant program for 6 days. The Presbyterian location was forced to close the cardiothoracic intensive care unit to renovate the areas affected by the toxic mold. The unit was finally able to re-open this past February. UPMC has agreed to no longer place transplant patients, or other patients with weakened immune systems into the rooms affected by the negative pressure system going forward. However, this is little to no consolation for the families of the victims of this terrible incident.

UPMC Facing Lawsuits

UPMC is now facing a number of lawsuits over the mold outbreak. The CDC has led investigations into the mold incident and has helped provide attorneys of the families of the victims with information. The CDC has also raised questions into UPMC’s actions prior to their arrival. Much of the affected areas had already been demolished by the time the CDC was able to investigate, so the true depths and lengths of time that the mold was allowed to grow are likely to remain unknown. Although the hospital is lucky that only 4 patients were lost, this incident should not have occurred in the first place. Hopefully, the hospital will be held accountable for its failure to take immediate and proper action to prevent this mold incident from happening in the first place.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of hospital negligence or medical malpractice, contact Gilman & Bedigian today.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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