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Fourth suit against Children's Hospital over fungus


By Associated Press
Posted: June 8, 2014 - 8:30 pm ET
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A fourth family has sued Children's Hospital in New Orleans over a fungal disease that killed five children infected by contaminated linen in 2008 and 2009.

John and Tina Scanlon of St. Charles Parish say they were told that 2-week-old Caroline died from a fungus that infected her somewhere outside the hospital.

A spokeswoman for Children's says the hospital cannot comment about pending litigation.

The case does not meet the profile of any of five children who the hospital and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention described as getting the infection at Children's, NOLA.com ' The Times-Picayune reported.

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The CDC report in 2011 also described a 21-day-old girl whose mucormycosis infection was identified after her death. Investigators said her infection apparently was acquired outside the hospital.

The Scanlons were told about Caroline's infection around Sept. 10, 2008, according to their lawsuit.

They did not know that on Aug. 25, 2008, days after Caroline's death, another premature infant died in the neonatal intensive care unit with a diagnosed case of mucormycosis, which started as a skin infection in his diaper area.

Cassandra Gee, mother of that baby, Tyrel Cayden Gee, has also sued the hospital. She said she found out that her son was involved by reading a NOLA.com ' The Times-Picayune story in April. Tyrel's case matches the profile of the first of the five who the CDC investigators determined acquired the infection in the hospital.

In April, Children's confirmed that in 2008 and 2009 five children — two newborn boys, a 10-year-old girl, an 11-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy — died from mucormycosis, caused by fungi found in dirt and decaying organic matter.

In a press conference soon after, Dr. John Heaton apologized for not informing the affected families sooner. He said then that the first cases did not stand out because the hospital treats one or two cases of community-acquired mucormycosis every year, and because the infection was a "contributing cause" of death but not a primary cause.

The hospital notified the state Department of Health and Hospitals in August 2009. The hospital asked the CDC to investigate. Information about the outbreak was published in medical and laundering publications which did not identify the hospital by name.

The Scanlon's complaint names as defendants Children's and TLC Services, the linen company that provided laundering services for the hospital from November 2006 until after the outbreak in the 2009. It also names Glenn Cobb, the director of housekeeping for Children's at the time, and Aramark Management Services, which contracted with Children's and employed Cobb.

Tina Scanlon and the couple's attorney, Dr. Joe Kott, declined to discuss the case Friday.


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