Potentially deadly mould found in hospital ward for vulnerable patients

While aspergillus is common and harmless to most, vulnerable people can develop serious conditions if exposed.

Potentially deadly fungus found in ward with vulnerable patients at Monklands Hospital NHS Lanarkshire

A fungus which could prove fatal to those who are immuno-compromised has been discovered in a Lanarkshire hospital ward for vulnerable patients.

Traces of aspergillus were discovered at University Hospital Monklands (UHM) in Airdrie during the process of upgrading a haematology ward.

It generally houses vulnerable patients and therefore had to be emptied by bosses to allow an upgrade of the ventilation system.

While most people breathe in aspergillus spores every day without getting sick, people with weakened immune systems or lung diseases are at a high risk of developing health problems due to the spores.

It can cause aspergillosis, which causes serious complications if it becomes invasive – potentially fatally spreading to other parts of the body including the brain, heart and kidneys.

The hospital is also taking precautionary measures by introducing portable HEPA filters in the now-empty ward, as well as prescribing anti-fungal medication for patients who are not already taking it.

The hospital confirmed that so far, none of the patients have shown any signs or symptoms of aspergillosis.

It comes less than a year after deaths at Glasgow’s troubled Queen Elizabeth University Hospital were linked to the mould.

The widow of Scottish Government employee Andrew Slorance linked his death to aspergillus, while Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar also claimed a clinician told him another such infection was found at around the same time period as Mr Slorance’s in a child cancer patient who later died.

Lynn Mack, NHS Lanarkshire cancer services manager, said: “As soon as aspergillus was identified we took active steps to carry out further testing and identify the necessary steps we needed to take to allow us provide the safest environment we can for some of our most vulnerable patients. 

“NHS Lanarkshire follows the Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infections (ARHAI) Scotland guidance and all standard infection prevention and control measures are in place to keep patients and staff safe.” 

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