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Family agrees to $1.3 million settlement in UPMC mold death

Tribune-Review
| Thursday, May 26, 2016 12:48 p.m
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Guy Wathen | Trib Total Media
UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland

UPMC will pay $1.35 million in a settlement with the family of an Erie woman who died during the hospital giant’s mold crisis, according to court records.

The settlement filed in Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas detailed the terms, which were undisclosed when first reported by the Tribune-Review last week.

Payouts of $850,000 and $500,000 will go to surviving family members of Tracy Fischer, 47, who had a heart transplant at UPMC Presbyterian and contracted a fungal infection while hospitalized. She died Oct. 1, 2014, at Presbyterian. The family’s attorney, James A. Dattilo of Pittsburgh, will receive 35 percent of the settlement as part of his fee, court records show.

Dattilo declined to comment Thursday, explaining that he is not permitted to discuss the case under the settlement agreement.

Fischer was treated in the same room of Presbyterian’s cardiothoracic intensive care unit in which two heart transplant patients with fungal infections received treatment before dying. Che DuVall, 70, of Perryopolis died in February, and an unnamed patient died in June 2015. A fourth unnamed patient died in September at UPMC Montefiore.

UPMC suspended its transplant program for six days in September after identifying mold in four patients at Presbyterian and Montefiore, both in Oakland.

A federal investigation into the problem pointed to a ventilation system in that room as a possible transmission mode.

A report in December by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health showed that a “negative-pressure” system was designed to pull outside air into the room. Hospitals generally use such systems to prevent infectious air from leaking out of a room. UPMC has said it no longer will house transplant patients, who have compromised immune systems, in negative-pressure rooms. A final report is scheduled to be issued this summer.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991 or bschmitt@tribweb.com.

is a former freelancer.

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