Hospital Must Release Records on Mold Outbreaks

January 7, 2021

The combination of aging healthcare facilities and deferred maintenance of those facilities generally results in relatively harmless problems — roof leaks, leaking faucets and burnt out lights, for example. Occasionally, though, the situation can turn harmful and even fatal.

Seattle Children’s Hospital has lost a battle in its fight to keep public health records concerning mold infections from Puget Sound area journalists, according to The Center Square. The hospital has seen a host of mold outbreaks since 2005, when it discovered Aspergillus mold in an operating room while investigating the source of three infections that staff determined to be a moldy nitrogen tank.

That same year, a couple filed a lawsuit claiming their 12-year-old daughter was permanently disabled after being sickened by mold at the hospital. The case was settled in 2008.

Since 2001, mold outbreaks at the hospital have sickened at least 14 patients and killed six more, largely due to operating room air-handling systems, Seattle Children’s Hospital CEO Jeff Sperring, MD, said during a 2019 news conference.

A class-action lawsuit against Seattle Children’s was filed in December 2019 on behalf of three former patients, claiming they were exposed to mold due to the hospital's negligence.

In August 2019, a reporter filed a records request to King County Public Health (KCPH) concerning Seattle Children’s aspergillum infections, according to court documents.

KCPH determined the 4,700 pages of relevant records were fit to release to King 5 News without redactions. Seattle Children’s objected to the idea on the grounds the requested records contained confidential patient information protected under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.


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