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‘We failed:’ Seattle Children’s CEO says 7 older cases linked to Aspergillus mold

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SEATTLE -- The CEO of Seattle Children's Hospital apologized on Monday and said doctors now believe seven older cases, including five deaths, are linked to ongoing mold problems in some surgical rooms.

Dr. Jeff Sperring said Monday that between 2001 and 2014 seven patients developed Aspergillus infections. Five of them died, Sperring said.

At the time, hospital officials thought that each of the cases was an isolated event.

"Looking back, we should have made the connection sooner," Sperring said. "Simply put, we failed."

The hospital closed all of its main operating rooms on Nov. 10 after the discovery of Aspergillus mold in three of its 14 operating rooms and two procedural areas.

On Nov. 14, Seattle Children's said it would keep 10 operating rooms and two storage rooms closed until the end of January to install new filtration systems amid ongoing mold problems.

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"We will conduct a rigorous and thorough review of all the factors that led to this situation and we will continue to make changes including our culture, our leadership, and our systems, Sperring said. "Specifically how our high-reliability systems can better pick up patterns of these very rare but significant events."

Click here to read the full statement from Seattle Children's CEO Dr. Jeff Sperring

Aspergillus is a common mold often present in the air we breathe, but it can cause complications for surgical patients, as it did in May when the hospital revealed that one child died and five others were infected by the same mold.

The King County Department of Health says one patient was infected with the latest incident.

Surgeries that need to be performed at Seattle Children’s will be done in three operating rooms that already have upgraded filtration systems, the hospital said. Other cases could be sent to another hospital.

Patients and families can call 206-987-2550 or email family.feedback@seattlechildrens.org for more information.

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