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VA halts elective surgeries

Officials say sterilization procedure was not followed

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Elective surgeries have been suspended at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center after a standard sterilization procedure was not followed, officials said Wednesday.

The "variance" in procedure, as the hospital's chief of staff, Dr. Luke "Mike" Stapleton, termed it, did not put any patients at risk of infection because it was simply a label that was put on a tray "out of sequence."

"That doesn't mean it got poorly sterilized; it doesn't mean it's a bad product," he said. "It just shows that there was a variance from our normal protocol."

The glitch occurred Nov. 16 and was discovered during a routine review that same day. All elective surgeries were suspended as a precaution Nov. 17. Some will be restored by Tuesday, but Stapleton could not say when all elective surgeries will be performed again.

"I do anticipate this to be in the timeframe of a week or two, not a month or two," he said.

He emphasized that all emergency and urgent surgical procedures are still going forward, and that he and the medical staff are confident that the equipment used in those procedures is safe for patients.

Stapleton said that during each operation, a surgical tray is prepared with the equipment needed for that particular procedure.

After the operation is finished, a decontamination process takes place involving washing, scrubbing and sending reusable equipment through a sterilizer before it is labeled.

On Nov. 16, the label was placed on the tray before the sterilization process had been completed, though the review showed that the equipment did get sterilized, Stapleton said.

The chief of staff said that, out of an abundance of caution, medical center staffers decided to resterilize all reusable medical instruments.

"Because we're the VA, and the things we do are in a fishbowl, and because we've had patients we've notified over this past week that we are postponing their surgery to a later date, we decided we wanted to inform the public," Stapleton said.

He acknowledged that a highly publicized incident from 2008 in which thousands of patients were potentially exposed to infection because of a problem with sterilization of equipment also contributed to the hospital staff's decision to resterilize.

"From past history here, as well as within the VA system as a whole, we've all learned our lessons over time," Stapleton said. "Anything that deals with the (supply, processing and distribution) process, we really do take the high ground."

In September, The Augusta Chronicle reported that an Augusta VA employee sent out an e-mail in April 2008 -- several months before others noticed -- raising alarm about the sterilization of flexible endoscopes.

In November 2008, after a Norwood patient noticed a problem, the VA notified more than 10,000 veterans that they might have been exposed to improperly cleansed equipment, and it offered testing. More than 50 cases of infection, from hepatitis C to HIV, have since been found, though VA officials say it's unlikely they came from the equipment, The Chronicle reported.

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gaspringwater
3
Points
gaspringwater 11/24/10 - 04:43 pm
0
0
The American taxpayer would

The American taxpayer would be better served if the VA was progressively closed down. Let veterans get their medical services in the marketplace where everybody else does. But veterans organizations will not agree with that. To them, the VA is more than a place for medical services - it's a monument to them

Sweet son
11649
Points
Sweet son 11/24/10 - 04:44 pm
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0
The VA must get up to par on

The VA must get up to par on it's sterilization methods. This is the second time recently that they had to admit problems with sterilization. Remember the endoscopes? Our Veterans deserve better than this.

KSL
143858
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KSL 11/24/10 - 07:04 pm
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I agree with you, Sweet son.

I agree with you, Sweet son. Not gasp.

Riverman1
93722
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Riverman1 11/24/10 - 07:14 pm
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The VA and other government

The VA and other government hospitals quickly publicize and rectify problems when they occur. Private hospitals, clinics and labs hide things.

scgator
1042
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scgator 11/24/10 - 07:39 pm
0
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I agree on the comment about

I agree on the comment about bring the sterilization procedures up a notch or two; however , I do not agree that the VA should be slowly done away with. When an enlisted person (man or woman) takes the "oath" to join the military, they by act of that oath SWEAR to give their physical life if necessary for the people of the United States of America; in turn on the other side of this oath, the United States of America SWEARS to take care of that person physically and care for them in return for their UNSELFISH service to OUR country. When I had open heart surgery two years ago (at Fort Gordon); it was first class and never once did I feel neglected or in any way at risk. Our VA hospitals are the finest in all of the world. Sure they have internal issues, but at least they monitor and make available to the public when they find an issue. When is the last time you heard of an outside hospital or individual physician's practice being this open with the general public or even their patient registry???? You keep your social medicine and "Prosperity Physicians"; I will keep my VA, and the dedicated employees of the VA.

gaspringwater
3
Points
gaspringwater 11/24/10 - 07:52 pm
0
0
The 2010 defense bill will be

The 2010 defense bill will be $719 billion, not counting war cost. $125 billion of the spending will go to veterans. In 1962, the $5.61 billion spent on veterans was almost 11 percent of national defense spending. That percentage has grown to 17.33 percent in 2010. And the spending is projected to grow to nearly 22 percent of defense spending in 2015, according to the White House budget office. This total of $147 billion will be the highest veterans spending ever. In FY 2007 there were a total 2,135,000 people receiving $42.18 billion in retirement benefits.

KSL
143858
Points
KSL 11/24/10 - 08:04 pm
0
0
gasp, you are beyond the

gasp, you are beyond the pale. Thank a vet and the government, which up until now, has been willing to pay for your ability to post that remark and enjoy your current lifestyle. Those vets put up with a lot to be paid in small payments and benefits for a lot less than your current Federal employees and union members are enjoying.

How ungrateful can someone be?

USNAVYVET
0
Points
USNAVYVET 11/24/10 - 08:14 pm
0
0
If Gasping is so intolerant

If Gasping is so intolerant of the VA's treatment of vets being treated out of the public hospitals as he is probaly not a vet.

gaspringwater
3
Points
gaspringwater 11/24/10 - 08:14 pm
0
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KSL - They were public

KSL - They were public employees making a paycheck and not idols. And I don't fault nor thank them for it. Sorry I'm not into the politically correct. But you'll notice the retired and relaxing ones are costing $125 billion in VA cost and $42.18 billion in retirement cost, a total of $167 billion a year and increasing.

KSL
143858
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KSL 11/24/10 - 08:26 pm
0
0
gasp, a lot of current and

gasp, a lot of current and future retirees will not be seeing anywhere near what we paid in, due in part to rationed care in the future.

You are young and fortunate. You have neither paid in much for yourself or for others. The bad thing is that we did not get the choice to join up or go it alone and suffer the consequences. Life should be about the choices we make and if we are stupid enough to make bad choices, the Constitution should not be invoked to save us from our stupid mistakes.

KSL
143858
Points
KSL 11/25/10 - 01:47 am
0
0
By the way, your problem is

By the way, your problem is you are looking at statistics. You are not looking at the laws that are behind those statistics. You've have never answered my question as to how old you are. I suspect you are a recent product of a far left lib education and ivory tower never worked in the real world educators. I'm giving you the benefit there. Maybe you have not been to college.

gaspringwater
3
Points
gaspringwater 11/24/10 - 08:34 pm
0
0
KSL - You've never got it!

KSL - You've never got it!

It's about issues - It's not about me!

Darby
29285
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Darby 11/24/10 - 08:50 pm
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"To them, the VA is more than

"To them, the VA is more than a place for medical services - it's a monument to them"

Class, can you say cynic?

Darby
29285
Points
Darby 11/24/10 - 08:53 pm
0
0
"The 2010 defense bill will

"The 2010 defense bill will be $719 billion, not counting war cost. $125 billion of the spending will go to veterans."

Good point! After they have served and are of no real use to us, why can't we just gas them?? Look at the money we could save...

Darby
29285
Points
Darby 11/24/10 - 08:58 pm
0
0
"It's about issues - It's not

"It's about issues - It's not about me!"

Wrong, because you don't get to define the issues. On the other hand, we are all defined by our environment, both nurture and nature. Got to wonder where all that negativity originates. KSL makes a very good point.

gaspringwater
3
Points
gaspringwater 11/24/10 - 09:10 pm
0
0
Certainly some room for

Certainly some room for economizing here, don't you think! For example, the average non-disabled enlisted member retiring from an active duty military career in FY 2004 was 41 years old and had nearly 22 years of service; the average officer was 45 years old and had nearly 24 years of service. So after 22 - 24 years on the public payroll a military person can retire in midlife and enjoy a monthly pension and very inexpensive medical care for the reminder of their natural life, compliments of Mr. & Mrs. America who're deeply in personal debt.

gijoe7898
0
Points
gijoe7898 11/24/10 - 10:14 pm
0
0
gasp, you've never walked a

gasp, you've never walked a mile, or 30 miles, in a soldiers boots. you've never went underwater in a tube for months at a time. have you ever separated from your family for a year at a time, multiple times to face hostilities?

I did and I earned every bit of what is coming in. you chose not to do it. assuming you could have qualified, you had the same opportunity. While you liberals like to talk about "INVESTMENT", lets examine what the USA gets from its veterans.

1) fine, upstanding citizens who get "it".

2) potential employees who are sought after by any business in its right mind.

3) people who, for the most part, barring war wounds, are healthier than the general public.

4) retired veterans go on to good paying jobs rather than languishing on the public dole.

5) no hard facts to back this up, but I will bet their children have a much lower delinquency average.

there are several more, but I think even you can get the drift, although I doubt you'll admit it.

So, to borrow a Pelosi moment, we have "INVESTED" in our veterans and enjoy the return on that.

BTW, gasp, "But veterans organizations will not agree with that. To them, the VA is more than a place for medical services - it's a monument to them..."

again, you are reaching at something you don't know about. VFW, American Legion and AMVETS (all of which I belong to) are the push behind any improvement at VA. They testify before Congress and hold VA's feet to the fire.

For you to imply that veterans are so vain as to want a monument like VA is very indicative of your out look on all things American.

Counterpoint
0
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Counterpoint 11/24/10 - 10:33 pm
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Gasp, Couple of things you

Gasp,

Couple of things you might want to consider. First, the salary paid to those enlisted soldiers and officers over their 20+ years of service is generally much less than what they could have been making on the outside. A good friend of mine is an Army Surgeon. If you took the difference in his pay in the Military vs what he could have made as a civilian over those 20 years, it would generate a lot more than his "retirement" pay.
Second, they don't receive "retirement" pay, though it is called that. They receive a stipend, in return for which, the US Government is entitled to recall them to active duty at any time they are needed.
Finally, I'm sure if you give the soldier I saw down town today his leg back, I'm sure he'd be more than willing to forgo his "retirement" pay for the rest of his life. But then again you can't do that, can you.

gaspringwater
3
Points
gaspringwater 11/24/10 - 11:02 pm
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gijoe7898 - You're right,

gijoe7898 - You're right, I've never walked a mile in a soldier's boots nor have I walked a mile in astronaut's boots either. But that doesn't prevent me from researching a subject. Just cut through the politically correct, the nostalgia and capture dollars and cost. An accountant does that and he's not sentimental about it either. We have an unpleasant truth - the active military and former military are a heavy load on our society.

gaspringwater
3
Points
gaspringwater 11/24/10 - 10:59 pm
0
0
Counterpoint - Thank you and

Counterpoint - Thank you and I know there the numbers I've used are unfair in many places. For example, every retired military person 65 and older fully deserves retirement pay. But it's another story for those younger than 65. And I regret anybody losing a limb but not only in the military, it happens in vehicle and civilian workplace accidents too.

And for the medical cost, I support universal health care for everybody but I think the case can be made that market place health services are more cost effective than the VA. And I'm fully aware that many people in the VA are dedicated people.

Darby
29285
Points
Darby 11/24/10 - 11:10 pm
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"Just cut through the

"Just cut through the politically correct, the nostalgia and capture dollars and cost."

Let's all chip in a buy this guy a set of green eye shades.

Darby
29285
Points
Darby 11/24/10 - 11:32 pm
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There are a few people on

There are a few people on this board who should not be responded to directly. Your logic is completely lost on them. Better to just laugh at or ridicule their groundless and hate filled absurdity. They can find endless sources to justify their contempt for our military. However, they could (if so inclined) find just as many or more sources and references to refute their own biased conclusions. These folks could have co-authored "How to Lie with Statistics", a book written by Darrell Huff.

BTW - Retired vets, since the military and our government reneged on the decades old promise of "free" medical care for life, pay for their medical care through premiums paid to Tri-care For Life and Medicare. I do, after almost thirty years service. I don't get a dime's worth of "free" care. Not to mention the fact that my "contribution" to fund those services goes up every year, without fail. At this point in my life, I have paid much more into the system than I have taken out.

Oddly, I don't mind paying, despite the fact that when I enlisted the recruiter made it clear that medical care for life was a part of my "deferred" military pay.

Little Lamb
49079
Points
Little Lamb 11/24/10 - 11:30 pm
0
0
Darby's false premise has

Darby's false premise has been debunked so many time before, but I'm afraid someone has to do it again. Darby falsely claimed:

Retired vets, since the military and our government reneged on the decades old promise of "free" medical care for life, pay for their medical care through premiums paid to Tri-care For Life and Medicare.

No one has ever been able to produce a single document obligating the U.S. Government (i.e., us taxpayers) to provide such “free” medical care. But the veteran victim class still wallow in their pity imagining that such a promise was made.

Little Lamb
49079
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Little Lamb 11/24/10 - 11:37 pm
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Darby said again: Oddly, I

Darby said again:

Oddly, I don't mind paying, despite the fact that when I enlisted the recruiter made it clear that medical care for life was a part of my "deferred" military pay.

In the first place, what you posted is not a “fact.” It is, rather, an “assertion.”

In the second place, if the recruiter obligated the U.S. government to pay your medical bills for life, he would have given you documents signed by an authorized agent of the government saying so. No one has ever been able to produce such a document. It is a myth.

gaspringwater
3
Points
gaspringwater 11/24/10 - 11:41 pm
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The Defense Department has

The Defense Department has wanted “working-age” retirees — those under age 65 — to pay more for Tricare. But Tricare fees have not changed since that program’s inception in the mid-1990s, the share of the military’s overall health care costs that are borne by beneficiaries declined from 27 percent in 1995 to just 12 percent in 2006 making Tricare into one of the lowest-cost health insurance plans in the nation.

Darby
29285
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Darby 11/24/10 - 11:48 pm
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Lamb - Who are you to tell

Lamb - Who are you to tell anyone that what I was told when I enlisted is not a fact? You have proven nothing. Has no one ever told you that you can't prove a negative? What you are saying is that I'm a liar and I'm afraid that if that's your position, then we both know what you are.

I have been there and obviously you have not. I have recruited young Americans into military service and I (unknowingly) told them the lie that they would receive free medical care for life. Why did I do that? Because I was told to by my superiors and because I believed it.

And that my friend (speaking figuratively) is an ABSOLUTE AND TOTAL FACT, not an ASSERTION. If you were there with me at the time, please let me know because I didn't see you.

If you chose to disbelieve, that's your option.

Little Lamb
49079
Points
Little Lamb 11/24/10 - 11:47 pm
0
0
Darby, you must learn that

Darby, you must learn that you do not have a contract if it is not in writing. It is part of the course, “Life 101.”

oldfella
620
Points
oldfella 11/24/10 - 11:50 pm
0
0
I'm recently retired from the

I'm recently retired from the military and so far haver no complaints about the Augusta area VA. But the Hepatitis/HIV cases not being caused by the improper procedures a couple of years ago sounds fishy. The vets in my peer/age group are about as low a risk group for HIV as you can find. For 50 cases to pop up from people getting treatment from a handful of specific VA hospitals is not just a coincidence. The thought of this happening is terrifying.

Little Lamb
49079
Points
Little Lamb 11/24/10 - 11:50 pm
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Darby wrote: I have recruited

Darby wrote:

I have recruited young Americans into military service and I (unknowingly) told them the lie that they would receive free medical care for life. Why did I do that? Because I was told to by my superiors and because I believed it.

I, too, have believed things that people told me that later turned out to be untrue. I completely understand. But when I learned that those promises were untrue, I did not pass the untruths on to other people. I exposed the untruths when I had the opportunities.

Darby
29285
Points
Darby 11/24/10 - 11:54 pm
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Lamb - I know that, but the

Lamb - I know that, but the eighteen year old that signed those enlistment papers did not. Anyway, you seem now to be backing off on calling me a liar, and for that I'm pleased. Try not to hate the military. They (most of them) only want to serve and protect.

"But when I learned that those promises were untrue, I did not pass the untruths on to other people." I didn't learn that I'd been lied to until many years later. Yet here you are assuming that I learned immediately and turned around and lied to my young recruits. You are a hopeless cynic.

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