Family Blames Hospital for Man’s Death from Legionnaires’ Disease

DAYTON — Miami Valley Hospital is responsible for the death of a 94-year-old Kettering man from Legionnaires’ disease, his family claims in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.

The lawsuit, which includes three other deaths, is the first filed concerning an outbreak of Legionella at the hospital in February 2011, when Charles O. Preston was a patient. Preston’s death certificate states he died March 23 from Legionella pneumonia.

Hospital officials said in March that 11 patients were infected.

It was the largest outbreak in Ohio since 2004, when 13 confirmed or probable cases were reported at a Cuyahoga County worksite. Miami Valley Hospital did report six cases in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

The lawsuit was filed by attorney Dwight Brannon. The families of deceased patients Robert Austin of Springfield and Doris Day of Kettering are also represented. Though their death certificates don’t mention Legionella, medical records and an oral admission by a hospital attorney confirm that they had the infection, according to the complaint.

Additionally, Brannon is seeking information on a patient who died Feb. 21, who also had Legionnaires’ disease, according to the complaint.

A surviving patient, Janis Lowery, is also represented. She “has suffered a significant loss of lung function, other health hazards and emotional distress as a results of contracting Legionnaires’ disease,” the complaint states.

The Dayton Daily News has extensively covered the outbreak and subsequent developments since last March.

The lawsuit names multiple officials with the hospital and Premier Health Partners as defendants, as well as a number of firms involved in the construction of the hospital’s new wing, which opened in December 2010.

Hospital officials said they could not comment on pending litigation and referred calls to attorney Neil Freund, who said on Wednesday that he could not comment.

Preston was hospitalized from Feb. 9 through Feb. 15, 2011, for treatment of severe back pain. He returned to the hospital Feb. 25 with complaints of fever, malaise, fatigue and headache. That same day, he tested positive for the infection.

Preston transferred to Trinity Nursing Home on March 1, then back to the hospital March 15, then returned to the nursing home under the care of Hospice of Dayton, according to the complaint.

Brannon also lists “approximately 127 patients” as unknown plaintiffs, people who were admitted to, treated at or present in the new wing during its first three months of operation, as well as all “visitors, frequenters, invitees, licensees and workmen.”

The complaint claims that the construction was done by a “pre-fabricated method,” in which corridor modules, bathroom pods and patient room headwalls were assembled in leased warehouses two miles away from the hospital.

The defendants performed water pressure tests on those units, then let them sit in the warehouses for months, allowing the Legionella bacteria to develop, the complaint states.

At the time of the outbreak, hospital officials suspected the Legionella bacteria colonized during construction of the $135 million tower. It shut down the patient tower’s water system Feb. 22-25 for sterilization.

Original article at: Dayton Daily News

Athens County has two cases of Legionnaire’s disease

September 20, 2011 – An Athens County health official on Tuesday confirmed that within the last week, two cases of Legionnaire’s disease have been diagnosed at O’Bleness Memorial Hospital in Athens.

One case reportedly involves a graduate student at Ohio University; the other, an out-of-county resident who apparently just came to O’Bleness as the nearest available hospital.

“We’re looking at this very closely,” said Chuck Hammer, administrator of the Athens City-County Health Department. “We’ve been aware of this since late last week.”

OU spokeswoman Jennifer Krisch confirmed Tuesday morning that “Yes, we have a graduate student with a confirmed case of Legionnaire’s disease.” She referred questions about the case to the Health Department.

In an internal OU e-mail obtained by The Athens NEWS, Steven Ross, director of the university’s School of Film, advised people in his department Sunday that a graduate student in that department had been taken ill the previous week and diagnosed with Legionnaire’s Disease at O’Bleness.

According to the email message, the graduate student, who is from New York, was transferred to a Columbus hospital.

Calls to the Columbus hospital seeking information on the student’s condition were not returned by the time this story was posted Tuesday.

Legionnaire’s disease is an acute respiratory infection caused by the Legionella bacteria.

According to Hammer of the Health Department, it is typically spread not from person to person, but though an infected shared water supply such as a hot tub, sprinkler system or air conditioner.

Hammer stressed that the disease poses a threat mainly to vulnerable populations such as the elderly or people with compromised immune systems.

“Generally speaking, Legionnaire’s disease can be quite mild,” he said.

Hammer said that state health officials have been informed of the two recent Athens County cases, and that investigators are working to try to find out if the two people diagnosed with the disease have any overlapping recent history, to suggest where they might have picked up the bacterium.

“There’s a little detective work that goes on,” he explained. Just because the two cases were both diagnosed in Athens County, he said, does not necessarily mean the source of the infection is here.

“There are a couple of cases of Legionella (locally), but we don’t know where they originated,” he said.

Hammer said he has heard from state health officials that there has been a “small uptick” in reports of Legionnaire’s disease across Ohio recently.

Ohio Department of Health spokesperson Tessie Pollock confirmed that a number of cases of Legionnaire’s disease are currently under investigation statewide, but added that these do not appear to be connected.

“So far, there is no indication of there being an outbreak,” Pollock said.

Original article from Athens News

Eight in Turtle Creek get Legionnaires’ disease

UPDATE on Turtle Creek Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak.

Eight people living at the LGAR Health & Rehabilitation Center in Turtle Creek contracted Legionnaires’ disease, an Allegheny County Health Department official said Tuesday.

Legionnaires’ disease, caused by a bacteria called Legionella, mimics pneumonia and can cause a high fever, chills, a cough, muscle aches and headaches, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bruce Dixon, director of the Allegheny County Health Department, said no one has died and the center is taking extra precautions to prevent it from spreading.

Dr. Dixon said the center has switched to using bottled water and is using a heavy metal iron system hospitals employ to prevent the spread of the bacteria.

He said Legionella often spreads when facilities install systems to prevent water from scalding people, causing it to lower in temperature and sometimes become tepid. He said he did not know what caused the Legionella to appear in the LGAR facility.

Representatives for LGAR could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

Original article at:

Elevated levels of Legionella found at Parma General ICU

Parma — A routine water test in the intensive care unit at Parma Community General Hospital on Tuesday revealed elevated levels of Legionella, the bacterium that causes Legionnaire’s disease.

As of Friday afternoon, no cases of Legionnaire’s had been reported.

Hospital officials confirmed unusually high levels of the bacteria were found in faucet water from the ICU, although other areas of the hospital remained unaffected. Legionella is naturally occurring in water, but certain conditions, such as warm, stagnant water, can cause flare-ups.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, hospital buildings are at particular risk because of their complex water systems and the fact that many patients have illnesses that increase their risk for infection.

Legionnaire’s disease is contracted by inhaling contaminated water vapor. Common symptoms include a high fever, chills and a cough. Signs of illness usually begin two to 14 days after exposure.

Infection can lead to a form of pneumonia and even death in 5 percent to 30 percent of cases, according to the CDC.

Smokers, the elderly and people with lowered immune systems are more at risk of developing symptoms. Most patients can be treated successfully with antibiotics.

Since the discovery of the high bacteria levels, the hospital has relocated two ICU patients who were considered vulnerable and released a third. Parma will continue selected admissions to the ICU, said hospital marketing director Mark White. Patients and staff have been alerted.

White said that the hospital has already started eliminating the Legionella colonies by replacing the ICU faucets and flushing out the pipes with hot water.

“We’re erring on the side of caution,” White said. “There hasn’t been any outbreak. It’s a manageable situation.”

This is not the first time Legionella has been an issue at Parma General. Since a single case of Legionnaire’s disease occurred in 2002, the hospital has been voluntarily testing its water supply every quarter. White said there have been other instances of positive Legionella levels since testing began but no additional cases of Legionnaire’s.

Cuyahoga County Board of Health Commissioner Terry Allan said that hospital officials had alerted his staff to the current situation. He applauded them for their continued testing regimen and reporting.

“It’s a very good practice to prevent cases among patients,” Allan said.

Last year, 33 cases of Legionnaire’s were reported in Cuyahoga County. There have been 22 cases so far this year.

Original article at:

Seventh Legionnaires Disease Case in Miami Valley Hospital Confirmed

DAYTON — A seventh Miami Valley Hospital patient has contracted Legionnaires’ disease, a hospital spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Hospital and Montgomery County public health officials on Tuesday had confirmed that one patient diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease — a Dayton man in his 70s — had died Feb. 21, and that two additional patients had contracted the disease, raising the total number of cases at the time to six.

The hospital announced the seventh case Wednesday afternoon.

The hospital said Legionella bacteria did not cause the man’s death. But the hospital declined to say if the disease was a contributing factor in the death, citing privacy concerns.

The hospital also said the physician filling out the man’s death certificate is not an employee of the hospital or its parent, Premier Health Partners.

The hospital said it has not yet received confirmation that Legionella bacteria had been present in the water system of its new patient tower. Another week could pass before those results are available.

Miami Valley instituted water restrictions in the new tower for three days last week after identifying the initial cluster of Legionnaires’ disease cases.

Legionnaires’ disease got its name in 1976, when high numbers of people attending an American Legion convention contracted the lung infection. Each year, 8,000 to 18,000 people are hospitalized with the disease in the U.S. It can cause death in 
5 percent to 30 percent of cases, but often is treated successfully with antibiotics.

From Dayton Daily News

OH hospital: Patients confirmed with Legionnaire’s

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — A hospital in Ohio says four patients over 60 have confirmed cases of Legionnaire’s disease, possibly from contaminated water in a new hospital building.

Officials at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton say one of the patients remains hospitalized while the other three have been discharged. The Dayton Daily News reports the hospital has declined to comment on the condition of the four, all heart patients.

The hospital is investigating whether the bacteria came from plumbing in its $135 million patient tower, which began admitting people in December. Dozens of other patients in the tower were notified Wednesday.

Legionnaire’s is a potentially deadly form of pneumonia caused by waterborne bacteria. The Daily News reports the illnesses were confirmed through tests earlier this month that identified an “unusual cluster” of cases.

Information from: Dayton Daily News