Lawsuit filed by family of 5th UPMC transplant patient to die after contracting fungal infection

Lawsuit filed by family of 5th UPMC transplant patient to die after contracting fungal infection

PITTSBURGH — A lawsuit was filed Wednesday against the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center by the family of a transplant patient who died in July after contracting a fungal infection.

Daniel Krieg, 56, died at UPMC Montefiore in Oakland. UPMC previously said Krieg’s death was caused by pneumonia and was not directly linked to the fungal infection.

Krieg became the fifth known UPMC patient with a fungal infection to die since 2014. The mold outbreak forced the temporary shutdown of the hospital system’s transplant program.

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“Our big hope is that we're not here six months from now talking about the sixth case,” attorney Brendan Lupetin said.

UPMC is accused of negligence in the lawsuit, which claims measures to protect Krieg from contracting a fungal infection were not taken.

The lawsuit points to a negative pressure room at UPMC Montefiore in which Krieg was treated for his pneumonia, despite a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigation having determined it should not be used for transplant patients and patients with weak immune systems. It also claims Krieg was not given an antifungal medication required under a new policy for transplant patients.

“Essentially, all of these promises were made to prevent this very, very dangerous and life-threatening condition that had just happened just a few months to several other transplant patients. Here, it happens to poor Dan when he gets in there with a very treatable condition,” Lupetin said.

According to Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE, an autopsy report listed Krieg's cause of death as multi-organ failure due to sepsis. It also said that there was the presence of mold, known as rhizopus, in his lungs.

“Mr. Krieg had a fungal infection that we successfully treated and resolved. He then developed a bacterial infection. The cause of death, per the autopsy report, was bacterial pneumonia, not fungal pneumonia. The report also specifically notes that the autopsy fungal cultures were negative,” a UPMC spokesperson said.

UPMC released the following statement Wednesday to Channel 11 News:

“Our sympathies are with Mr. Krieg's family, and the doctors and nurses who cared for him. We continue to work with our local, state and federal partners to better understand and learn from the course of his illness.”

UPMC has already settled two lawsuits with other transplant patients, each for more than $1.3 million.