VA confirms local patients infected

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Seventeen patients, including six in Augusta, who were treated at Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers with improperly sterilized equipment tested positive for a viral infection, the VA announced Friday evening.

The VA stressed that it is still unclear whether the infections stemmed from getting an endoscopy exam at the VA. A spokeswoman said earlier this week that the situations at the VAs in Augusta; Murfreesboro, Tenn.; and Miami should not be grouped together.

More than 3,100 veterans have been notified of their test results out of the 10,555 sent letters notifying them of the problem, the VA said in a news release.

Of the 17 infections, 11 were hepatitis C, five were hepatitis B and one was HIV. The release didn't list which infections occurred in Augusta.

The risk of hepatitis transmission from an endoscopy exam is "extremely small" and there are no reports of HIV being passed that way, according to the release. Testing is ongoing, and the three VAs have added personnel to "ensure that affected veterans receive prompt testing and appropriate counseling," according to the release.

The problems at Augusta's Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center occurred in the ear, nose and throat clinic between Jan. 2 and Nov. 6 last year. The endoscopy equipment was sterilized with a solution not recommended by the manufacturer, officials said. Problems at Murfreesboro's VA discovered in December led to a systemwide review in March that uncovered the problem in Miami, press secretary Katie Roberts said.

Ms. Roberts has noted that the VA is "widely cited as the first health care institution in the United States to mandate disclosure to patients of all adverse events" and that was reiterated Friday.

"The VA prides itself on being accountable, and we are extremely concerned about this matter, and as a result we have initiated an investigation," said Dr. Michael J. Kussman, the VA's undersecretary for health.


The VA has set up a 24-hour hot line for patients and families at (877) 575-7256.

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Craig Spinks
Craig Spinks 04/04/09 - 12:02 pm
There must be some vast

There must be some vast left-wing, socialized medicine-inspired conspiracy to deprecate the reputations of both UH and VAH-Aug. Everybody knows that nobody at either institution has ever made a mistake- or a reported one, at least. And, by the way, Dr. Kussman, is that an oxymoronic internal investigation you're initiating?

Just My Opinion
Just My Opinion 04/04/09 - 02:45 pm
So, let me get this math

So, let me get this math straight...there were 10,555 people who were involved in some sort of endoscopic test, where the scope was cleaned improperly...or outside of the manufacturers guidelines. Okay, so out of the 10,555 people, there were 17 people who had some sort of infection which may or may NOT be associated with the endoscopic test. If my math is correct, that breaks down to 1/1000th of a percent! Actually, it's even smaller than that because there are no documented cases of HIV being spread in this manner. What I'm saying is that the chances of the endoscopic procedure being the reason is ridiculously small..hardly even worth worrying about. But the naysayers will always jump on this and blow it out of proportion in order to scare people. This is causing more harm than good. Think of all the people who will NOT be getting an endoscopic procedure now because they're scared of the chances of getting Hep B or C. OK, I'm off my soapbox now!

justus4 04/06/09 - 08:33 am
This paper reported that the

This paper reported that the risks were extremely low for those being treated at the VA. What happened that six were infected? Oh, that number is probably low, if compared to all the veterans treated.

dvdbiggs 08/12/10 - 06:38 pm
Again,you are right on

Again,you are right on justus4.

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