University of Pittsburg Medical Center to pay $1.35 million in lawsuit over fatal mold infection
Patients at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centers were diagnosed with nosocomial fungal infections leading to their deaths. All were transplant patients. At least three of the patients had been placed in negative pressure rooms, designed to prevent a patient from transmitting infections to others, following transplant surgeries. Negative air pressure can also pull particles, including mold spores, into the rooms. This process likely contributed to the deaths at UPMC.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was called in to investigate the outbreak. Organ transplant patients are often treated with immune system suppressive drugs to prevent rejection of the new organs. Treatment with these drugs also makes the patient particularly susceptible to systemic infections, including fungal infections.
The daughter of a woman who died at UPMC Presbyterian in 2014 after contracting a mold infection at the hospital, settled her legal claims against the hospital this week for $1.35 million, according to court records.
Tracy A. Fischer, 47, of Erie, was one of four transplant patients who contracted mold infections at either UPMC Presbyterian or UPMC Montefiore in 2014 or 2015. All four patients died and the mold outbreak led to a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigation last fall that is ongoing.
Ms. Fischer, who was the first of the four patients to die, had a successful heart transplant at UPMC Presbyterian on June 18, 2014, but developed a mold infection in September 2014 and died Oct. 1, 2014.
In May 2016, the Fisher’s family settled a wrongful death lawsuit against UPMC for $1.35 million. The settlement was approved, and made public, by the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. Other claims are pending.
According to the court documents, the settlement payment is 80 percent for the wrongful death action — Carly Fischer’s loss of her mother — and 20 percent for the survival action — that is, the family’s loss of any wages Ms. Fischer would have made if she lived.