Parents allege contaminated linens at Children's Hospital caused death

Michelle Massey May 21, 2010, 4:53am

Stephen Tyler and Dorothy Malik, individually and as heirs of their late son Zachary Malik Tyler, filed suit against TLC Services, Inc., Children's Hospital and its insurer on May 13 in the Orleans Parish District Court.

They claim their 13-year old son was admitted to Children's Hospital in New Orleans with a suspected diagnosis of recurrent Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis on Feb. 18, 2009. Three months later, the boy died from an opportunistic infection in his lungs that his parents claim was ultimately the result of contaminated linens.

According to the complaint, about a month after the boy's initial admission into the hospital, he developed an infection that resulted in more than 20 surgeries. Shortly after the last procedure, Zachary was placed on a ventilator and developed a herpes simplex infection in his lungs due to the massive amounts of anti-fungal and antibiotic agents used to treat the previous infection.

It was nearly a year later before his parents learned that there was an outbreak of mucormycosis at Children's Hospital due to contaminated linens. According to the complaint, five patients, including Zachary, died as a consequence of this outbreak.

Co-defendant TLC Services is accused of failing to follow aspect protocols and procedures in the laundering of linens, failing to conduct regular inspection, testing, and monitoring of linens to preclude contamination, and for handling linens for immune-compromised hospitalized patients in a contaminated setting.

The hospital is accused of negligence for failing to require their linen vendor strict adherence to aseptic protocols and procedures and for failing to require its linen vendors to conduct regular inspections, testing, and monitoring in order to prevent contamination of linens.

Tyler and Malik are seeking damages for Zachary Tyler for conscious pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, disfigurement, scarring, embarrassment, humiliation, fear and anxiety concerning his impending death.

Tyler and Malik are seeking wrongful death damages for medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, grief and mourning, and loss of society and relationship with their son because of his death, plus interest and court costs.

Metairie attorney Harry T. Widmann is representing the plaintiffs.

Judge Robin M. Giarrusso is assigned to the litigation.

Case No. 10-4883

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