July 8, 2019

Mold infections leave one dead and force closure of operating rooms at children’s hospital

Source:, July 3, 2019
By: Hannah Knowles

One patient dead. Five others infected. A thousand surgeries postponed and 3,000 people told to watch for infection symptoms.

That’s the toll so far from mold problems at Seattle Children’s Hospital that forced the shutdown in May of all main operating rooms on its main campus in Seattle. The hospital says issues with its air-filtering system were probably at fault.

The six patients who developed infections — three last year, three this year — were more at risk from the mold because of their medical procedures, according to the hospital, which U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country and this year rated top in the Northwest. The death stemmed from an infection in 2018 but occurred this year.

Mark Del Beccaro, chief medical officer at the children’s hospital, announced at a news conference Wednesday that the operating rooms would reopen Thursday, as daily air-testing results indicated the facilities were safe.…

May 23, 2019

Mold discovery at Seattle Children’s Hospital closes operating rooms, officials say

Source:, May 22 2019
By: Stephen Sorace

Seattle Children’s Hospital closed several operating rooms and is contacting the families of about 3,000 children who’ve had recent procedures after a common type of mold was detected in the facility over the weekend, officials said.

Aspergillus mold was found in four of the 14 operating rooms following a routine check, hospital officials told The Seattle Times. The affected rooms will remain closed until further notice. Dozens of surgeries have been moved or rescheduled.

“Patient safety is our top priority, and we are taking this situation very seriously,” hospital spokeswoman Alyse Bernal said in a statement.

Aspergillus is a common mold found both indoors and outdoors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While most people breathe in the spores every day without getting sick, the mold poses a greater risk to those with compromised immune systems or lung disease. The mold can cause allergic reactions and infections in the lungs and other organs.

While the hospital said it believes the risk to surgical patients is “extremely low,” it is contacting those who’ve had surgical procedures in the past four months, the paper reported.

Hospital officials told KOMO News that staff are cleaning the affected areas and will work with an industrial hygienist to determine how the mold contaminated the operating rooms.

Two patients at the hospital have developed Aspergillus infections over the past year, KOMO reported. One of the patients died. Details on the cases couldn’t be shared because of health care privacy laws.…

November 29, 2018

4 sickened with Legionnaires’ disease at UW’s University Hospital

Source:, November 29, 2018
By: Anuja Vaidya

UW Health’s University Hospital in Madison, Wis., identified four patients who have developed Legionnaires’ disease. These are the first cases of the disease acquired at the hospital in 23 years.

The hospital urine-tested the patients, three of whom were previously hospitalized and one of whom is an inpatient. All four tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease in the past 10 days.

The hospital suspects the cause is its hot water system. Legionnaires’, a type of pneumonia, is caused by bacteria that are usually present at low concentrations in tap water. People contract Legionnaires’ when they inhale droplets of water in the air that contain the Legionella bacteria, according to the CDC.

The hospital has a water treatment system, however, “a recent adjustment to that system may have compromised its function,” according to a statement.

University Hospital has stopped the use of hospital showers until early Nov. 29. Additionally, it is using a hyperchlorination process to flush all hot water lines to eliminate any Legionella bacteria.

Two of patients have been discharged, while the other two remain hospitalized. The Wisconsin state Division of Public Health has been notified.…

June 18, 2018

Legionella found during water tests at VA hospital in Loma Linda

Source: Orange County Register (CA), June 14, 2018
Posted on:

Legionella bacteria was discovered Wednesday, June 13 at the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial VA Medical Center in Loma Linda, a facility at the center of a federal whistleblower complaint from a group of worried physicians and nurses.

Hospital officials learned of the Legionella through quarterly water safety testing, according to Wade J. Habshey, spokesman for the Pettis Medical Center.

“This does not mean there is a Legionella outbreak,” he said in a statement. “The facility has a zero-tolerance policy for Legionella.”

Mitigation efforts are underway and out-of-service signs have been placed in front of affected rooms and drinking fountains as a safety precaution.

“Service chiefs are notifying staff members as appropriate” regarding the remediation, Habshey said.

Information was not immediately available regarding how long it will take to remove the Legionella or whether patients have been transferred to other rooms during mitigation efforts.…

June 14, 2018

Legionnaires’ disease case suspected at UW Medical Center

Source:, May 23, 2018

A case of suspected Legionnaires’ disease has been found at the University of Washington Medical Center — the third time in as many years that the disease has been suspected at the facility.

UW Medicine and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance report a suspected case of Legionella pneumonia involving a patient in a SCCA Hospital at the UW Medical Center.

Officials said the patient “has been diagnosed with a highly probable healthcare associated Legionella pneumonia.”

The patient is in satisfactory condition and is responding well to treatment, officials said.

“We believe this is an isolated case, and Legionella bacteria are rarely, if ever, transmitted from person to person,” UW Medicine and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance said.…

August 30, 2017

Lead-Based Paint Is a “Pollutant” within CGL Pollution Exclusion

Source:, August 2017
By: Kent Holland

Where lead-based paint was ingested by a tenant’s child, the tenant sued her landlord for injuries allegedly sustained by the child. The landlord tendered the claim to its commercial general liability (CGL) insurer who, instead of defending the case, filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a determination that the pollution exclusion of the CGL policy barred coverage for the alleged injuries. The Owner held that, although not specifically listed in the pollution definition as a “pollutant,” lead-based paint is, in fact, a “pollutant” within the meaning of the policy. The policy’s pollution exclusion was, therefore, applicable, and the insurer had no duty to defend and indemnify the landlord. See Georgia Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Smith, 298 Ga. 716, 784 S.E.2d 422 (2016).

The terms of the CGL policy required the insurer “to pay those sums that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’” … “only if: (1) the ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’ is caused by an ‘occurrence’ that takes place ….” An occurrence is defined as “an accident.” Coverage was subject to exclusions, including the pollution exclusion, which provided that the insurance does not apply to “(1) ‘[b]odily injury’ or ‘property damage’ arising out of the actual, alleged or threatened discharge, dispersal, seepage, migration, release or escape of ‘pollutants’: (a) [a]t or from any premises, site or location which is or was at any time owned or occupied by, or rented or loaned to, any insured.”…

June 15, 2015

Zurbrugg Site Contractors Indicted for Unsafe Asbestos Removal

Source:, June 21, 2012

Officials said their actions allegedly caused the release of asbestos dust and debris.

Two men and the demolition company they operated have been indicted by a state grand jury on charges that they unlawfully removed asbestos from the former Zurbrugg Memorial Hospital in Riverside, without a license and using workers who were not trained or equipped to do the job safely, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced.

The Division of Criminal Justice obtained a state grand jury indictment charging Frank J. Rizzo, 53, of Parlin, Middlesex County; Michael Kouvaras, 59, of Maplewood, Essex County; and the company they ran, Deuteron Capital, LLC, doing business as South Street Fillit Recycling of Riverside, with conspiracy (second degree), unlawfully causing the release of a toxic pollutant (second degree), abandonment of toxic pollutants (second degree) and violating the Asbestos Control and Licensing Act (third degree).

The charges stem from a joint investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Environmental Crimes Unit and the Department of Corrections Special Investigations Division.

Between August 2010 and March 2011, the defendants allegedly used untrained day laborers, including inmates from a halfway house, to remove asbestos from the hospital buildings in connection with demolition at the site and their efforts to salvage valuable copper and steel. They allegedly engaged in asbestos removal without required licensing, and their illegal activities allegedly caused the release of asbestos dust and debris.…

February 23, 2015

Legionnaire’s disease outbreak at MVH draws lawsuits

Source: February 13, 2015
By: Ben Sutherly

Four lawsuits have now been filed against Miami Valley Hospital and other defendants over a February 2011 outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the hospital.

A lawsuit filed Wednesday in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court claims O’Dell Norman of Huber Heights became seriously ill after he allegedly contracted Legionnaires’ disease while staying at the hospital.

In a lawsuit filed last week, the family of a 94-year-old Kettering man, Charles O. Preston, alleged the hospital was responsible for his death from Legionnaires’ disease.

Preston’s death certificate states he died March 23 from Legionella pneumonia.

The families of deceased patients Robert Austin of Springfield and Doris Day of Kettering also are represented in the Preston complaint. Though their death certificates don’t mention Legionella, medical records and an oral admission by a hospital attorney confirm they had the infection, too, according to the complaint.

The Dayton Daily News erroneously reported last week that the Preston lawsuit was the first to be filed in the outbreak’s wake. In fact, two other lawsuits had been filed previously against the hospital and other defendants in county Common Pleas Court. They include:

• A Jan. 9 complaint alleging that Shirley Stewart of Xenia and George B. Williams of Huber Heights contracted the disease during their hospital stays.

• A Jan. 23 complaint alleging that Virginia Shaw of Troy contracted the disease during her hospital stay.

“Out of respect for the confidentiality of the patients, we can’t discuss their care or case, and we don’t comment on pending litigation,” hospital spokeswoman Nancy Thickel said in a prepared release Monday.

Hospital officials in July told the Dayton Daily News that insufficient heating of the hot-water system in its new 12-story addition was the primary reason for the outbreak, the largest in Ohio since 2004.

They had hoped the lower temperatures would prevent scalding.…

March 22, 2013

Deadly Exposures

Source:, August 22, 2012
By: Dan Reynolds

A toddler death stemming from a MRSA outbreak wreaks havoc at a hospital.

Risk Scenarios are created by Risk & Insurance editors along with leading industry partners. The hypothetical, yet realistic stories, showcase emerging risks that can result in significant losses if not properly addressed.

Disclaimer: The events depicted in this scenario are fictitious. Any similarity to any corporation or person, living or dead, is merely coincidental.

Part One

Shane Graves, the chief pediatric heart surgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital, closed the door of the hospital room he had just left and stopped to gather himself.

In the room behind him lay the dead body of Garret Easton, a two-year-old boy who had valiantly survived a heart defect and corrective surgery only to have his life swept away by a virulent strain of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus or MRSA, that somehow, the boy had contracted in this very hospital. “Damn it, Damn it, Damn it!” Dr. Graves said to himself inwardly.…

March 5, 2013

Health officials tracing source of chemicals that sickened Hopkins workers

Source: The Baltinore Sun, February 28, 2013
By: Scott Dance

Faulty boiler systems caused similar poisonings in 1990s New Jersey

Health officials continue to investigate how contaminated hot water sickened nearly two dozen people at the Johns Hopkins at Keswick complex Monday, but the case is similar to previous ones involving faulty water-heating systems that let chemicals mix into drinking water.

Twenty-three people at the Hopkins facility — home to about 600 health system and university administrative workers — fell ill with headaches, breathing difficulty and dizziness.

The investigation confirmed that chemicals known as nitrates and nitrites in the water supply were responsible for the illnesses, but officials still are exploring their origin. That leaves questions for the complex’s workers — many of whom returned to work Thursday — and neighbors.

“It’s going to take some more testing for us to say how it became a source,” said Tiffany Thomas Smith, the city health department spokeswoman, of the water heater. “We have isolated it as a source.”

The chemicals found in the water can cause low blood pressure and a blood disorder that makes it difficult for the body to deliver oxygen to organs and tissues, creating symptoms including shortness of breath, dizziness and, in severe cases, coma or death.…