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Fungus Prompts Closures of ORs at Seattle Children’s Hospital

Posted Wednesday, May 22, 2019 by Tyler Goldberg-Hoss

Aspergillus is a common fungus that is all around us, including the air we breathe. For most of us, it causes no issues. However, it can be problematic, deadly even, if it finds its way into the wrong part of the body, and/or into a patient whose immune system is not strong.

That is what makes the recent discovery of aspergillus in the operating rooms at Seattle Children’s Hospital so worrisome, particularly for the pediatric patients and their families.

Some people, particularly those who may be patients at Seattle Children’s, have depressed immune systems. For those people, even breathing in Aspergillus can cause serious infections.

For others, even if they are not immunocompromised, if they have a surgery and the Aspergillus gets into their surgical site – the knee or brain, for example – that can also cause a serious, sometimes deadly infection.

So for operating rooms such as those at Seattle Children’s, it is vitally important that the air is free from Aspergillus and other things that can get into a patient’s surgical site and cause infections.

Environmental engineers at Seattle Children’s continue to evaluate the airflow in and around the ORs, in hopes of identifying the reason for these increased levels of the fungus.

Meanwhile, surgical patients are either being moved to outside facilities for surgeries, or having their surgeries postponed. For the hospital and its patients, it’s an unfortunate situation to be in. On the one hand, no one wants patients to develop unnecessary surgical site infections. And on the other, some of the patients really need surgery, and sending them to outside hospitals such as Harborview can disrupt the continuity of care for a pediatric surgical patient.

It is a difficult situation, most of all for any patients who develop a serious infection as a result.

You can read more about this here.

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