Seattle Children’s Hospital was recently hit with a class-action lawsuit alleging it tried to cover up a massive mold infestation.
A new class-action lawsuit filed against Seattle Children’s Hospital alleges it know for years that its facilities were infested with mold, but instead of doing anything to remedy the situation, the hospital allegedly tried to cover it up. As a result, many patients became ill and six children even died due to the mold infestation, according to the suit.
The class-action lawsuit was filed earlier this week on behalf of some of those patients who fell ill from the mold. It states that the hospital “knew since at least 2005 when a family sued the hospital that Aspergillus mold, which is especially dangerous to those with an already weakened immune system, could be transmitted through its air-handling system.” It further states that the hospital “engaged in a cover-up designed to reassure its patients, doctors, nurses, and the public that its premises were safe, when in fact they were not.” That said, the doctors and nurses weren’t even aware the facilities were unsafe.
When responding to the lawsuit, the hospital issued the following statement:
“We are incredibly sorry for the hurt experienced by these families and regret that recent developments have caused additional grief. Out of respect for privacy, we do not intend to share details about our patients or comment on specific cases or legal action.”
Earlier this year the infestation became so bad that the hospital was forced to shut down its operating rooms twice “after air tests detected the common mold in the air.” As a result of that particular outbreak, six patients fell ill and one died. Between 2001 and 2014, seven other “patients developed the same infection and five of those children died,” according to the suit.
When commenting on the matter last month, Dr. Jeff Sperring, the CEO of the hospital said:
“At the time, we believed most of these were isolated infections. However, we now believe that these infections were likely caused by the air handling systems that serve our operating rooms. Looking back, we should have recognized these connections sooner.”
Despite Sperring’s comments, the suit argues the “internal communication about systemic problems with the air-handling system’s maintenance shows the hospital should have been aware of risks as early as 2000.” For example, back in 2002 and 2003, a professional engineering consultant informed the hospital that there were concerns about its air-handling system, including “failure to test equipment, water leaks, plugged screens, live and dead birds in fan shafts and overall filthy condition of all air-handling units.” Around the same time the lead engineer at the hospital also “identified bird debris and claimed the units were rotting out,” according to the suit.
As a result of the hospital’s alleged failure to remedy the mold infestation situation, the plaintiffs are seeking class-action status and unspecified damages.