With lawsuit pending, fourth victim of UPMC mold outbreak dies
February 7, 2016 11:28 PM
The DuVall Family via KDKA
By Karen Kane / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The fourth person who became infected with mold last year while a patient at UPMC died Saturday while still in hospital care.
Che DuVall, who launched a medical negligence lawsuit in January against UPMC, was a patient at UPMC Presbyterian at the time of his death.
The death was reported by UPMC to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner. Mr. DuVall, 70, died at 12:20 p.m. Saturday. The cause of death was listed as multi-organ system failure due to sepsis, which is a systemic infection. The manner of death was listed as natural. The death certificate was signed by the attending UPMC physician. No autopsy will be conducted, according to the medical examiner’s office.
Mr. DuVall, of Perryopolis, used a report released in December by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the foundation of his suit.
Mr. DuVall was an organ transplant patient at UPMC Presby when he contracted the fungal-sourced mold infection along with three other transplant patients who already had died. The CDC report, released Dec. 21, 2015, noted Mr. DuVall had been a patient in a negative-pressure room at the hospital as had two of the other infected patients. Negative-pressure rooms are designed to draw air into the room from outside for patients who already have a potentially airborne contagious disease, but prevent the air in the room from spreading to other patients. The fourth patient who contracted the fungal infection was a patient at UPMC Montefiore, located near UPMC Presby.
Allison Hydzik, a spokeswoman for the hospital system released a statement Sunday afternoon:
“It is with great sadness that we confirm the passing of Mr. DuVall and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family as well as to our doctors and nurses who have worked with great compassion and skill to care for him. We again want to reassure our patients that we have taken every possible precaution to make our hospitals as safe as is humanly possible, and have followed all recommendations made by federal and state regulators.” Ms. Hydzik said she was not authorized to release Mr. DuVall’s day or time of death.
The Fayette County man and his wife, Karen, filed suit in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court in January. The suit alleges a series of missteps that led to Mr. DuVall contracting a fungal-sourced mold infection. In part, the suit reads: “Defendant [UPMC] Presbyterian knew or should have known that placing Che DuVall in a negative-pressure environment, given his state of immune suppression, vastly increased his risk of contracting a myriad of life-threatening infections, including that which befell him.”
Mr. DuVall remained a patient at UPMC Presby and, as recently as last month, was able to speak, according to a previous statement from his attorney, Brendan Lupetin. Mr. DuVall was a double-lung transplant patient. Mr. Lupetin characterized the death as “unexpected.”
“Three weeks ago, I met with him for two hours. He was in good spirits, all things considered. It’s a real tragedy that it suddenly ended like this.”
The lawsuit will be amended to reflect that Mr. DuVall has died, he said.
The hospital suspended its transplant program for six days in September after identifying mold in four patients, three who had been at UPMC Presby and one at UPMC Montefiore.