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Surgeries continue at Seattle Children's amid mold investigation

Seattle Children's is facing violations from the state department of health and a federal agency after mold was detected in operating rooms.

SEATTLE — On Monday, Seattle Children's said the hospital has treated 70 cases since operating rooms reopened on July 4. All surgeries had been relocated or postponed since May 24 for an air quality investigation. 

One patient died and five others were infected in the past two years after Aspergillus mold was found in Seattle Children's operating rooms. 

Now the hospital is working to address violations found by two agencies: the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is a federal agency. 

The state DOH met with Seattle Children's the day they reopened to talk about safeguards for patients and visitors. The health department told KING 5 they do not have the authority to open or close the operating rooms at Seattle Children's. 

Hospital officials said they were conducting a routine test of its operating rooms on May 18 when Aspergillus mold was detected. The hospital said they reported the mold to the state health department on May 20. 

On May 28, DOH began a three-day investigation of Seattle Children's. 

As a result of the investigation, DOH and CMS provided the hospital with statements of deficiencies.

An analysis of a 14-page report issued to Children’s found more than two dozen violations of federal regulations and hospital policy.

  • The hospital's failure to approve and implement an infection prevention improvement plan
  • The failure to properly maintain air filtering systems that fed to operating rooms
  • And the failure to inspect or calibrate air flow monitoring equipment to make sure it worked.

The report stated, "The failure to ensure oversight of the program that prevents infections puts patients, staff and visitors at risk of harm from environmental pathogens."

Seattle Children’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mark Del Beccaro responded to the report, "So what they found was some deficiencies in the documentation, which is not exactly the same as saying that something didn't happen. But if it isn't documented, it is their observation that we didn't have sufficient oversight." 

On June 20, CMS sent a letter to the hospital saying the hospital faced potential termination of its Medicare provider agreement.

Dr. Beccaro said the hospital sent a plan of correction back to CMS on June 27. That plan has not been approved yet. 

The hospital said it's done more than what's required in the code for that building to make it safe. 

RELATED: Fear of mold exposure continues for patients treated at Seattle Children's Hospital

Taylor Mirfendereski contributed to this report.

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