NEW YORK — A new mold testing protocol being implemented at a New York City hospital has caused a stir among medical experts.
The city’s Department of Health said it plans to install a new mold-testing program for its emergency departments.
It was set to begin Monday and will run through March 31.
Its intended use is to test patients for mold.
Mold is not a disease, but can lead to respiratory infections and other problems, including heart attacks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a letter to the department, the city’s medical director, Dr. John T. Regan, said mold is not “an acute respiratory disease” but is an “ongoing threat.”
“The use of the term ’emergency room’ to describe this disease is misleading,” he wrote.
“It is not the most important thing we are trying to do, but it is a way of saying that we have a problem.
The fact that the city has chosen this method of diagnosis is a testament to the importance of our efforts.”
Regan added that the testing is part of the citys effort to get mold in the emergency room.
“We are also looking at a number of measures to make sure that we’re providing the right services to patients and to ensure that we are protecting the public health,” he said.
Reagan also said the department plans to work with the state’s health department and the city to develop guidelines for the testing.
At a press conference Monday, Dr, Driscoll said the city is working with the department on a testing program.
Dr. Joseph G. O’Reilly, director of the division of respiratory diseases at Mount Sinai, said the hospital does not yet know what to make of the new mold test protocol.
O’Reilly called it “a reasonable step” in trying to prevent mold from spreading in hospitals.
He said the health department is working on recommendations to make the new program better for patients and doctors.
He said a similar testing protocol was used at the University of Chicago Medical Center last year, which led to a significant reduction in mold.