Health Care

More | | | Editor

33 vets missed in alert

VA informs patients of possible exposure

  • Follow Health

Thirty-three veterans were overlooked last year when the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in downtown Augusta alerted its patients about possible exposure to infectious bodily fluids.

Officials began contacting those patients on Wednesday so that they can be tested, said Ellen Harbeson, chief of quality management at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center.

The 33 patients are among the thousands who were possibly treated with improperly cleaned equipment at VA hospitals in Miami, Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Augusta. About 50 patients among the three hospitals tested positive for infections, including eight cases of HIV.

In late May, a patient at the Miami hospital told officials there that he believed he had been overlooked. A review of records showed that he was correct, and Miami officials contacted another 78 individuals who had not been tested for possible exposure. There were no patients missed in Tennessee.

Officials in Augusta began their review two weeks ago and discovered the 33 patients who had been overlooked.

The first investigation in 2009 focused exclusively on patients treated at the ear, nose and throat clinic. What it failed to include were patients treated outside the clinic with possibly contaminated equipment, Harbeson explained.

For instance, a doctor might have used a scope from the clinic to treat someone who came in for treatment at the VA's emergency room.

"The original data pulls would not have included those patients from a variety of settings other than the ENT clinic," Harbeson said.

Harbeson said the affected patients are from "all over" the area and only a "few" are local. Hospital Director Rebecca Wiley told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the risk for infection is low.

Associated Press reports were used in this article.

Comments (19) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Junket831
0
Points
Junket831 08/11/10 - 05:29 pm
0
0
Didn't the Miami VA Director

Didn't the Miami VA Director get removed due this incident? I would hope the same fate does not happen here. From what I hear the current director at the Augusta VA is doing a good job. Veterans groups should do everything they can to keep her in place.

dichotomy
32982
Points
dichotomy 08/11/10 - 05:32 pm
0
0
Cut their direct deposit off

Cut their direct deposit off and they will contact you. Works every time.

Aww c'mon. It was a joke.

DaddyFrog
46
Points
DaddyFrog 08/11/10 - 06:18 pm
0
0
To dichotomy: It wasn't

To dichotomy: It wasn't funny.

RAINBOW
11
Points
RAINBOW 08/11/10 - 09:17 pm
0
0
no it wasn't

no it wasn't

dichotomy
32982
Points
dichotomy 08/11/10 - 10:47 pm
0
0
Gimme a break. That is as

Gimme a break. That is as good as my humor gets.

dvdbiggs
13
Points
dvdbiggs 08/12/10 - 03:59 pm
0
0
The comment made by dichotomy

The comment made by dichotomy was not funny at all. He/She must not have served in the United States military. It was not the veterans fault that they were possibly infected and it is a possibility that the veteran is unable to respond. Some of these veterans are possibly homeless and on the streets,as so many of our veterans are today. If we can't provide our veterans with SAFE medical care,maybe the VA should pay for them to be treated at civilian medical facilities.

dvdbiggs
13
Points
dvdbiggs 08/12/10 - 03:48 pm
0
0
VA management must be held

VA management must be held accountable for incidents which occur at VA hospitals and places the lives of our veterans at risk. These men and women have put their lives on the line to protect our country and our freedom. How did these 33 veterans just get "overlooked"? If the director is not accountable, who is?

dvdbiggs
13
Points
dvdbiggs 08/12/10 - 02:08 am
0
0
About 50 patients among the

About 50 patients among the three hospitals tested positive for infections, including eight cases of HIV.

Hospital Director Rebecca Wiley told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the risk for infection is low.

The related article stated the information listed here. If there is ANY CHANCE of infection how can it be considered LOW. Eight of these cases,per this article were positive for HIV,a death sentence.

dvdbiggs
13
Points
dvdbiggs 08/12/10 - 02:25 am
0
0
Rebecca Wiley was talking

Rebecca Wiley was talking about the 33 cases that were overlooked at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center,but anytime that a veteran is exposed to HIV, I feel that it should be considered at the higest level. The veteran has already put his/her life in danger numerous times and they should not have to face being exposed to any dangers at a health care facility where they are seeking medical treatment.

gijoe7898
0
Points
gijoe7898 08/12/10 - 02:27 am
0
0
great. politicians always

great. politicians always pan the cam talking about veteran health care. they try to seem indignant about travesties like this. they understand they are to blame for the shortcomings in the VA healthcare system, but will never admit it. they hold the purse strings. they enjoy their no co-pay system and fail to relate to what we go thru for health care. there is a 2 tier system. the veteran is not in the top tier. nor are you, fellow citizen. only the elite will get what they need.

Socialism is for the people, not the elite. the elite tells us what we need and deserve, but they will never partake in such a system. wake up folks. or do you need a hollywood celeb flying in on a private jet to tell you about "green" life?

disssman
6
Points
disssman 08/12/10 - 06:19 am
0
0
Just remember that one of

Just remember that one of Augustas finest business people, declares himself indigent and gets care for free at the VA. He can do that because no one checks on anything down there.

justus4
101
Points
justus4 08/12/10 - 06:49 am
0
0
This constitutes a failure to
Unpublished

This constitutes a failure to perform specific duties, and especially a potential danger for those 33 veterans. The individual being paid to oversee Quality Control Management at that VA hospital has demonstrated a lack of attention to detail in this matter and placed an unknown number of veterans at risk of contracting a deadly virus. In view of those facts, an honorable resignation would be in order and the Commander of that operation should answer as to how that QA person failed under his/her watch.

fontana
0
Points
fontana 08/12/10 - 11:16 am
0
0
I would have never thought

I would have never thought that anything could be more frightening as looking into the jungles of Vietnam before entering. Now, looking into the lobby of a VA hospital before you enter are bringing those feelings back. Words can't describe the disgust.

dvdbiggs
13
Points
dvdbiggs 08/12/10 - 04:06 pm
0
0
The comments made by justus4

The comments made by justus4 are justified and I agree that the QA person should present the hospital director her resignation. However,I am positive that this will never happen.

dvdbiggs
13
Points
dvdbiggs 08/12/10 - 05:08 pm
0
0
Veterans groups should do

Veterans groups should do everything they can to have a greater knowledge of what really goes on at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center. Management never seems to be held accountable!

dichotomy
32982
Points
dichotomy 08/12/10 - 06:11 pm
0
0
dvdbiggs....just for your

dvdbiggs....just for your info, did 20+ years, 2 in Vietnam, am VA disabled and use the VA hospitals here frequently. I ran my "Cut off their direct deposit and they will contact you" comment by some of my crusty old NCO friends and they chuckled. So now I doubt seriously that you have ever served. One thing about an old GI, most of them can take a joke and see a little sarcastic humor in most situations. Now judging from the numerous comments you made on this story I see you are apparently an expert on VA hospitals, hospital administration, and the record keeping on eligible veterans. If you had ever been in a VA hospital and seen the large number of transient patients who are probably indigent homeless, doubtful that they are really "veterans", and who's main "health" problem appears to be cocaine and/or methamphetamine addiction, you too might see some humor in the fact that the local VA has problems locating 33 of them. So now I say again, with no humor, that if they were treated they must have a name, and a VA record of some type. If they are drawing a disability check and they REALLY want to find them, then cut off their check and I assure you they will contact the VA by the 2nd of next month. Yes, it is a shame that ANYONE has to worry about getting infected while having a procedure but that is the kind of thing that happens with socialized medicine when there is no monetary incentive to provide clean quality care. Get used to it 'cause it's coming to a hospital near you under Obamacare.

dvdbiggs
13
Points
dvdbiggs 08/12/10 - 07:30 pm
0
0
dichotomy....You are wrong

dichotomy....You are wrong again. I too served 20 years in the military and I also worked at a VA medical center for 20 years. So you see,I am very familiar with the VA hospital administration,record keeping,eligibility, and types of patients that are seen. You are right about one thing,if they were treated at the VA they do have a record of the patient. The clerks do a great job of verifying eligibility. Oh, did I mention that I too am a disabled veteran. I do not utilize the VA hospital so that some of our less fortunate veterans can be treated at VA Medical Centers. Yes a lot of them are homeless,and possibly utilize illegal drugs,but they still served our country and deserve medical care.

kmdrdd
0
Points
kmdrdd 08/12/10 - 08:53 pm
0
0
Someone is to blame you

Someone is to blame you shoudn't have to fear going for medical procedures. Start at the top fire the director and I bet it won't happen again.

fontana
0
Points
fontana 08/12/10 - 11:28 pm
0
0
The Gov can't take care of

The Gov can't take care of the Vets medically.
The Gov can't even bury Vets properly.
When the Gov is forced to reinstate the draft they'll see what real problems are. The mishandling of Vets will come back to haunt them.

The way this Gov looks today and the current Economic conditions resembles the final days of the Roman Empire, which lasted just over 400 years, this country is just over 200 years old, wonder if we make it as long?

Back to Top

Top headlines

Many black colleges struggling

Although Paine has struggled with its own failures over the past several years, HBCUs across the nation are dealing with some of the same troubles that are threatening their missions and existence.
Search Augusta jobs