Basement Flood Blamed for Surgical Lung Resection

Some months after a flood in the basement of her home, a middle-aged woman developed pneumonia requiring hospitalization. Following appropriate treatment and apparent recovery, she experienced two more episodes of pneumonia in the same lung. Ultimately, she underwent surgery to remove a chronically-infected lobe of one of her lungs. An internist was supporting her claim that the flood had caused a fungal pneumonia resistant to treatment, forcing surgical lung resection. ICTM performed a detailed analysis of the woman's medical records, including radiologic studies, cultures, biopsies and tissue samples. The records revealed that the organism found at surgery was a form of mycobacterium, related to the organism which causes tuberculosis, completely unrelated to fungus.

Sewer Backup Blamed for Hepatitis

Repeated sewer backups had occurred in a woman's home caused by the city's improperly designed sewer system near her housing development. When the woman was diagnosed with chronic active hepatitis C, she and her physician attributed this to the sewage to which she had been exposed in her home. ICTM's investigation of her prior medical and occupational records revealed that she had, some years before, worked as a nurse's aide in a chronic care facility with patient contact and medication administration as part of her duties. When the employee health facility's records were obtained, they documented her visit for treatment following a needle stick incident. In addition, review of the medical/scientific occupational literature further supported the opinion that the likeliest cause of the hepatitis was the needle stick incident. Workers in all areas of solid waste treatment centers do not have an increased incidence of hepatitis C.

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