Fungal Infection Kills Fifth Organ Transplant Patient At Pittsburgh Hospital

The family of a man who died this weekend at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) indicates that he is at least the fifth organ transplant patient to die of a fungal infection at the hospital since 2014. 

Dan Krieg, 56, died on Saturday, but the family and the hospital dispute the cause of death. The hospital maintains that the death was related to pneumonia, and not directly related to a fungal infection that had infected one lung. However, the family indicates the problems were directly related to the mold infection and is considering a medical malpractice lawsuit.

If true, Krieg would be the fifth patient to die at the hospital due to a mold infection. Four previous organ transplant patients have died from causes related to the same infections, and Krieg received a kidney transplant there in July 2015.

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The hospital is currently under federal investigation over the cases, which investigators have said may be caused by patients being placed in “negative pressure” rooms that are usually reserved for already infected patients. The rooms are designed to prevent air from leaving the room and transporting infectious materials into other parts of the hospital.

The hospital has admitted that the room Krieg was kept in during his transplant a year ago had negative pressure capabilities, but claims they were not active while he was there.

In September 2015, UPMC temporarily halted transplants at all of its hospitals after mold was discovered. According to a CDC notice published in May, the Pennsylvania Department of Health reported a cluster of three infections that afflicted solid organ transplant recipients over the course of a year at UPMC Presbyterian. There was a fourth probable case as well.

According to the CDC, the three confirmed cases were all treated in the same room, which was a negative pressure room.

“Frequent use of this door by personnel and visitors might have disturbed airflow, allowing dust and mold spores, if present, to enter the room,” the CDC noted. “None of the patients had a clinical indication requiring negative-pressure isolation.”

The hospital has said it is reviewing and updating its procedures as a result.

Krieg admitted himself in March and one lung was discovered to be heavily infected to the point where the left lobe of a lung had to be removed, according to the family. He and one other patient were not in the room with the three other infection cases.

In May, the hospital agreed to pay $1.35 million to the family of Tracy Fischer, who died in October 2014 due to another fungal infection. It is unclear if she was one of the patients mentioned by the CDC.


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