Patients die at NHS hospital after contracting infections from mould

Up to six heart-surgery patients die at an NHS hospital in Edinburgh after catching MOULD-related infections

  • Scottish health secretary said three types of mould infections have been found 
  • Six patients have been infected and ‘some’ died, Jeane Freeman said
  • Source of the infection is unclear but ‘specialised cleaning’ is underway 
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Six patients who underwent heart surgery at an NHS hospital in Edinburgh developed life-threatening infections due to mould, the Scottish health secretary has said.

Jeane Freeman told the Scottish Parliament three different types of mould-related infections were identified in the patients, all of which had cardiothoracic surgery at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

And ‘some’ of those affected died, Ms Freeman – speaking at the Scottish parliament Building Holyrood –  added.

The source of the infections has yet to be identified, however, ‘specialised cleaning and decontamination’ measures have been put into place.

Scottish MPs fear a string of NHS failures have ‘shattered’ the public’s confidence in the health service.  

Jeane Freeman (right) – cabinet secretary for health and sport in the Scottish Government – has confirmed six people who underwent heart surgery at an NHS hospital in Edinburgh developed infections due to mould. And ‘some’ of these patients have died, she added

‘Three types of mould infection have been identified, which have affected six patients,’ Ms Freeman said.

‘Sadly some of those six patients have died.’

The first patient to have contracted an infection was declared by Health Protection Scotland on February 19, Ms Freeman said.

On March 19, bosses at NHS Lothian wrote to 186 patients who had undergone the procedure – which treats diseases that affect the organs in the chest – warning them of a ‘low infection risk arising from their surgery’.

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A grandmother died after catching a fungal lung infection at an NHS hospital – sparking a police investigation.

Mito Kaur, 63, was left on life support after picking up the mucor fungus at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow.

The hospital was at the centre of controversy earlier this year after a 10-year-old boy and 73-year-old woman died in the hospital after catching an infection found in pigeon droppings, according to the Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.

Mrs Kaur died at 2am on March 14 after her life support machine was switched off.

Relatives of the shop worker have criticised hospital staff, claiming they only found out about her condition from reports of a fungal outbreak in a press release on the hospital’s website last month.

Aamer Anwar, the Kaur family’s lawyer, said he contacted prosecutors to advise them of the family’s concerns, and their ‘desire for a fully independent investigation to take place’. 

‘I understand that the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal have instructed the police to obtain a full report, following which an independent post-mortem will be carried out,’ he said.

None of the types of mould responsible are ‘commonly found in hospitals’, Ms Freeman said.

This comes after a wake of infection-related deaths at the £842million Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

Opposition MSPs consequently said confidence in the NHS has slumped.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs told the Health Secretary: ‘It is quite clear public confidence has been shattered recently in our NHS estate.’

Speaking of the incident at the Edinburgh hospital, Scottish Labour’s Monica Lennon added: ‘Unfortunately, here we are again. 

‘It’s a different hospital, a different city, different infections, but the outcome is the same – patients have died and public confidence continues to dip.’

NHS Lothian has ordered ‘specialised cleaning and environmental decontamination with hydrogen peroxide vapour’ in relevant wards and theatres of the hospital after the infections were discovered, Ms Freeman said.

‘Once we have identified the source there will be lessons to be learned from that,’ she added.

‘Healthcare associated infection outbreaks are rare and whilst it is important to respond when they do occur…they do affect a very small proportion of the 1.2 million in-patient and day cases treated every year in Scotland.’

‘Not all healthcare associated infections are preventable. 

‘But we do have dedicated professionals and a rigorous system focused on limiting them and controlling them.’

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