Attorneys for the family of a transplant patient who died during a mold outbreak at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said tainted linens might have played a part.
Daniel Krieg, 56, died last July at UPMC Montefiore in Oakland after contracting a fungal infection. Krieg was the fifth known UPMC patient with a fungal infection to die since 2014. His family filed a lawsuit in October against UPMC.
An investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention never pinpointed the exact source of the mold, but attorneys for Krieg's family said they've uncovered new evidence that points to a linen company as the source of the mold.
An attorney for Krieg’s family filed an amended complaint on Thursday, alleging that there was mold on the sheets that the hospital was using. All UPMC hospitals, except Magee Women’s Hospital, use the same linen company, which is based in DuBois, Pennsylvania.
The CDC launched an investigation after several transplant patients contracted fungal infections at UPMC Presbyterian and died. The CDC blamed it on negative pressure rooms and said the ventilation system was the likely culprit.
However, attorneys for Krieg's family amended their lawsuit on Thursday to include the new evidence about the linens.
Officials with UPMC said they are now using specially treated linens for transplant patients. The hospital system issued the following statement:
"We continue to be transparent with federal and state health regulators, and we shared all our findings with them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pennsylvania Department of Health were unable to determine a definitive source for the fungal infections."
UPMC has already settled other lawsuits in connection with the mold outbreak. The family of an Ohio transplant patient who died during a mold outbreak at UPMC settled its lawsuit with the hospital network in September for $1.35 million. Shelby Slagle, 27, of Groveport, Ohio, died in June 2015 after undergoing a heart transplant.
The family of another patient, Tracy Fischer, 47, of Erie, settled its lawsuit for $1.35 million in last May. Fischer died in October 2014.
The CDC said a specially ventilated room in the hospital's cardiothoracic intensive care unit might have been the source of the mold.
The mold outbreak forced UPMC to suspend its transplant program for six days in September 2015.
Tami Minnier, Chief Quality Officer for UPMC, issued the following statement:
Stay with Channel 11 News and WPXI.com for continuing coverage.
- Cardiothoracic ICU at UPMC Presby shut down due to mold infestation (Sept. 14, 2015)
- 2 patients who contracted mold infections at UPMC Presby have died (Sept. 17, 2015)
- UPMC announces death of 3rd patient who contracted mold infection (Sept. 18, 2015)
- UPMC temporarily halts transplants due to mold problem (Sept. 21, 2015)
- 11 Investigates: Another UPMC transplant patient died after contracting fungal infection (July 11, 2016)
- Family settles mold death suit against UPMC (Sept. 7, 2016)
- Autopsy reveals UPMC transplant patient contracted same mold infection that led to others' deaths (Aug. 18, 2016)
- Lawsuit filed by family of 5th UPMC transplant patient to die after contracting fungal infection (Oct. 12, 2016)