General News
Posted March 30, 2011
ACH Employee Death in the News

By now, many of you have read or heard about the unfortunate loss of one of our outpatient therapists on the St. Petersburg campus. (See story in 3/30/11 St. Petersburg Times.) While still under investigation, the suspected cause of death is related to a blood infection that may lead to meningitis. Since this employee had not actively seen patients or been at work for a week prior to her death, the number of those who were potentially exposed is limited - less than 15 patients and families, several dozen immediate co-workers.

The measures taken by All Children's to date were designed to safeguard the health of ALL of our patients, their families and our staff.

We want to assure everyone that those patients, families and co-workers who were at risk of exposure have all been contacted directly by All Children's Hospital staff. They have been counseled and offered (when appropriate) preventive antibiotics at the hospital's expense.

If you have not been contacted directly by All Children's Hospital, your child was not a patient of this therapist and therefore is not at risk of exposure.

This infection, while very serious, is not transmitted easily - like a cold or the flu can be.

It doesn't live on surfaces, furniture or equipment. It can't survive in air conditioning units or air handlers.

There is no reason to fear being in any All Children's facility where outpatient therapies and visits are routinely offered - or in the hospital itself.

Even if a patient or co-worker of this therapist came in contact with others, this would not be considered an exposure risk.

As an example, doctors and nurses who treat patients in the hospital for this type of infection routinely do many tasks without exposing themselves to risk of infection. Physically examining an infected patient who already has symptoms is not considered an exposure risk unless the patient coughs or sneezes directly into the caregiver's face. Performing a lumbar puncture (or spinal tap) to draw spinal fluid for lab testing is not considered an exposure risk.

Further, even if a patient or co-worker of this therapist had been exposed to the organism in question, they could not immediately pass it along to someone else.  It takes time for the organism to multiply within that patient's body before they can pass it along to someone else.

Please be assured that All Children's is diligently working to protect the health of our valued patients, their families and our staff.