Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn

Two years ago this month, Seattle Children’s Hospital closed all of its 14 main operating rooms for six weeks due to Aspergillus mold infections — and then closed some of its operating rooms again six months later. As more information about the longstanding nature of the contamination became public, multiple news organizations began seeking records related to those infections, including records exchanged between the Hospital and King County Public Health.

Despite the fact that long-term Aspergillus contamination in the Hospital had already become common knowledge, Seattle Children’s went to court and opposed the release of these public health records, claiming they were not, in fact, public, and instead were protected from disclosure under a Quality Improvement — or “QI” — exception. The trial judge disagreed, Seattle Children’s appealed, and last December that appellate court affirmed the trial judge’s decision.

“It definitely makes me really angry to know that they’re trying to hide this information that the public should know,” said 19-year-old Athena, who became infected with Aspergillus in 2013 while she was receiving treatment at Seattle Children’s. “My parents weren’t told anything about that. They were told, you know, Seattle is a wet place. They were kind of beating around the bush,” said Athena.

“It’s basically a statutory way for them to keep a code of silence,” said Karen Koehler who, along with a coalition of attorneys, represents Athena and dozens of other Seattle Children’s patients and families in mold-related legal claims against the Hospital.

Now, after fighting this court battle for around one-and-a-half years, Seattle Children’s and the public health departments have begun releasing public health records about these mold infections to KING 5.