Deadly fungus in New Orleans hospital raises patient safety questions

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

April 30, 2014

The deaths of at least four children from a flesh-eating infection contracted from improperly disinfected linens has raised concerns about patient safety at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, according to a New York Times report.
 
The outbreak of mucormycosis, which occurred between August 2008 and July 2009, is suspected to have spread partly because of lapses in the hospital’s infection controls and sloppy handling of contaminated linens, the paper reported. Among other things, the report alleges that workers unloaded clean linens on the same dock where medical waste was removed, moved clean and soiled linens on the same carts, and stored linens in hospital hallways covered in dust from a nearby construction site.
 
Although the paper reported the CDC did not fault the hospital for not moving quicker to deal with the outbreak, the findings have raised concerns about how the infections came about, why doctors did not connect the cases until more than 10 months after the first death, and what obligation the hospital had to inform parents and the surrounding community of the outbreak.