Children’s Hospital Releases New Details in the 2008-2009 Deaths of 5 Patients

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – There are new details about the deaths of five patients at Children’s Hospital.

In a media conference Thursday, hospital leaders talked about the source of a rare fungal infection, and future plans to keep patients safe.

Leaders at Children’s Hospital say five children who died in 2008 and 2009 were exposed to an outbreak of a rare fungal infection, which causes Mucormycosis of the skin.

Cultures and air quality testing determined the fungus was transmitted through the linens they slept on.

The outbreak has long been addressed.

But families involved have only recently been notified.

“We recognize how difficult it is for these families years after their child has been hospitalized to go through these matters again, but we feel it’s important to give them all of the information that we have,” said Children’s Hospital President and CEO Mary Perrin.

During the outbreak nurses noticed similar lesions on patients involved.

The State Department of Public Health and the CDC were immediately notified for advanced DNA testing.

The fungus was determined to be a contributing factor, but not the primary cause of death.

“This condition affected only gravely ill patients, most of who had immunosuppression from other diseases as well as being terminally or gravely ill,” said Chilren’s Hospital Outbreak Expert John Heaton.

Leaders at Children’s Hospital have since taken steps to prevent similar risks; specifically using overly aggressive steam pressurization with linen for high risk patients.

And while extraordinary steps were taken to identify and contain the source of the outbreak, hospital leaders admit falling short of notification expectations.

“Because we failed to do what we should have done, pure and simple,” Heaton said. “We dropped the ball.”

Attorneys representing the families are not yet commenting.

Hospital leaders promise to fully disclose any adverse event or hospitalized condition that affects future patients.