Louisiana residents may have heard of the crib deaths at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans and the subsequent wrongful death lawsuits filed against the hospital. Recently, the family of another newborn baby commenced a wrongful death suit against the hospital and the agency that washed the linens. The baby died due to mucormycosis, which researchers believe is spread through towels, sheets, and other linens.

The 18-day-old baby died in the hospital and doctors believe that she died due to a fungal infection which affected her brain. In their wrongful death lawsuit the parents allege that, they requested an autopsy after the baby died in August 2008. Hospital authorities allegedly produced a 12-page document in which they attributed the cause of death to mucormycosis. They also claimed that the source of the fungal infection could not have been the hospital where she was delivered or the General Hospital, where she was taken for treatment, because the environments in both hospitals were controlled. They claimed that she must have contracted the infection in her home.

In April 2014, however, Children’s Hospital authorities confirmed that five children died in the hospital between 2008 and 2009, of whom two were newborn babies. They died after they contracted mucormycosis, an infection that spreads through dirt-borne fungi. Thereafter, the hospital authorities held a press conference and apologized for not revealing this information to the affected families. There had been investigations into the incident but the case was not publicized except in laundering and medical journals. The hospital name was not revealed in those publications.

When medical error leads to the death of a patient, Louisiana law allows the next of kin to file a medical malpractice lawsuit for the wrongful death. In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the family’s lawyer will present expert evidence to show the hospital did not meet the accepted standard of care in the relevant specialty.

Source: The Times Picayune, “Fourth lawsuit filed against Children’s Hospital over fungal outbreak,” Rebecca Catalanello, June 6, 2014