To our greater community:
In the last two weeks, we have learned a great deal.
Delivering anything less than the best for those we have been entrusted to care for is the last thing any of us at Children’s Hospital wants. Our commitment to being a highly reliable organization that continuously strives for excellence remains our highest priority.
The Children’s Hospital mission is to provide care without avoidable complications or hospital acquired infections. If we fail to meet that goal, we carefully examine each instance using proven scientific safety techniques to discover, analyze and improve our processes.
During 2008 and 2009, we had an outbreak of a rare fungal infection that caused a disorder commonly known as mucormycosis. The infection was even more unusual in the fact that it was found to be hospital acquired, and primarily affected the skin. This condition afflicted only the most critically ill of our patients, several of whom had severely compromised immune systems from other diseases and were suffering from the failure of multiple organs.
We regret not being more proactive in communicating with the families directly impacted by this outbreak. As mentioned, a fundamental part of our practice is to improve our policies where needed, and we have begun this process regarding patient communication and disclosure of adverse events.
Last week, the Child Health Patient Safety Organization sent out a notice to all other members at our request, reiterating our findings from the 2008-2009 outbreak. This notice alerted the other members of the organization of our experience with this rare infection, including identification of at-risk populations, the steps we took to investigate and remediate the outbreak, and the protective measures we use today for our patients. We have also attempted contact with each of the families affected by the outbreak five years ago.
Our dedication to saving the lives of sick children remains unwavering. Our passion persists in serving the needs of those closely affected by pediatric illness and we will continue our efforts to support these families as best we can.
John F. Heaton, MD
Associate Medical Director, Patient Quality & Safety
Children’s Hospital New Orleans