During a recent air test at Seattle Children’s main campus hospital, we found Aspergillus in some of Seattle Children’s operating rooms and equipment storage rooms. Aspergillus is a common type of mold found in the environment and the air we breathe, both indoors and outside. In most cases, it does not cause health problems. However, in rare instances Aspergillus can cause complications for surgical patients, especially those whose immune systems are compromised.

Patient safety is our priority, and the affected operating rooms are closed as we work with outside experts to identify and fix the issues. We have postponed or diverted some non-emergent surgeries. We also have reported the situation to the Washington State Department of Health.

We are sorry and disappointed this happened. We are committed to caring for any patient who may be adversely impacted and want to assure you that we are taking remedial steps identified by external experts to address the situation.

What should I know?

We are contacting the families and providers of patients who had surgeries at our main campus since Jan. 20, 2019 to advise them of the issue. We chose the Jan. 20 date because most Aspergillus surgical site infections present within 4 months of the surgical procedure.

Though the risk of a surgical site infection from Aspergillus is very rare, we are educating patients and their families about its symptoms, which may include redness, swelling or drainage from the surgical site or fever. Patients who have had neurosurgery are also being instructed to watch for headache or a stiff neck. If a patient is experiencing these symptoms, they are being instructed to call the Seattle Children’s clinic that performed the surgery directly.

Where should I direct families who have questions?

If your patient or family has a concern, please ask them to visit our website for the most up-to-date information or call 206-987-2550.

If you would like to speak with Seattle Children’s leadership team directly, please contact Dr. Robert Sawin, Seattle Children’s Surgeon-in-Chief (206-987-1462 or robert.sawin@seattlechildrens.org). You may also contact Seattle Children’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Mark Del Beccaro (206-987-2005 or mark.delbeccaro@seattlechildrens.org). If you have an urgent clinical concern, please call the Provider to Provider Consulting Line at 206-987-7777 and ask to speak to the specific surgical service on call.