HIV case linked to clinic in Augusta

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Testing among veterans exposed to improperly sterilized equipment at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center revealed more potential infections, including an unconfirmed case of HIV.

The Department of Veterans Affairs posted an update Friday on the test results of patients exposed to endoscopic equipment that was cleaned with the wrong solution. In Augusta, 1,069 patients treated in the Ear, Nose and Throat clinic were affected between January and November 2008.

At VA hospitals in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and in Miami, the problem stretched back five years and involves nearly 10,000 patients.

The VA said all of those potentially exposed in Augusta have been notified and all but 81 have responded, with 13 declining testing. The results are back on 783 patients in Augusta, though the VA said it could not be certain of the number tested because some patients might have been tested at other clinics. Of those, 671 have been notified of the results.

In what the VA is calling "unverified positive tests," there have been one case of hepatitis B, one case of HIV and five cases of hepatitis C among those tested in Augusta. At all three clinics, the testing has turned up three cases of HIV, 19 cases of hepatitis C and six cases of hepatitis B. Earlier this month, the VA had reported 17 unconfirmed infections, including one case of HIV, but they were not broken down by location.

"These are not necessarily linked to any endoscopy issues and the evaluation continues," the VA said. "We are continuing to notify individuals whose letters have been returned as undeliverable, and working with homeless coordinators to reach veterans with no known home address."

The VA has said it doesn't know whether veterans treated with the same kind of equipment at its other 150 hospitals were exposed to the same mistake.

All three sites used endoscopic equipment made by Olympus American Inc., which said it is helping the VA address problems with "inadvertently neglecting to appropriately reprocess a specific auxiliary water tube."

Charles Rollins, 62, who served three tours in Vietnam with the Navy from 1966-69, said the news concerns him because he's used the Augusta clinic several times.

"That's terrible," he said by phone from an American Legion post in Augusta.

Associated Press reports were used in this article.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Veterans with questions or concerns can contact the VA through the Special Care Call center at (877) 575-7256 or by e-mail at opiawebcom@va.gov.

Comments (7) Add comment
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fooman
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fooman 04/18/09 - 02:53 am
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An unconfirmed case of HIV?

An unconfirmed case of HIV? Then how do they know that the patient has HIV.

justus4
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justus4 04/18/09 - 04:43 am
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What?! This is not good. The
Unpublished

What?! This is not good. The leadership of that hospital must be in jeopardy to have failed our vets with such poor attention to details. The director must be let go because this happened on his watch. No excuses.

AreUSerious
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AreUSerious 04/18/09 - 05:44 am
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glad i never use it....they

glad i never use it....they should hire ppl that want to work and not half work..train these ppl to do there jobs...ill be foring and hiring and i'm started with the head person

HYPOCRITES 08
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HYPOCRITES 08 04/18/09 - 08:18 am
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It is terrible what took

It is terrible what took place, however just because you are the head of something, does not automatically mean that you should get fire, if something goes wrong. It is not realistic to expect him/her to be every where. The ones responsible for ensuring that everything is sterilized, should be the ones to go.

Ode to Augusta
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Ode to Augusta 04/18/09 - 10:33 am
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Welcome to a preview of

Welcome to a preview of government run socialized health care.

jack
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jack 04/18/09 - 02:51 pm
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Hypo, the buck stops at the

Hypo, the buck stops at the top, period.

Taylor B
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Taylor B 04/18/09 - 06:37 pm
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Government controlled

Government controlled healthcare at it's finest.... sign everyone up!

Seashells
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Seashells 04/19/09 - 11:49 am
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A shame people get a good job

A shame people get a good job and then abuse it.
I saw first hand how lazy they are at the VA Nursing Home.
My father was at home for 8 years of his illness. Thank goodness he only had to spent 3 months there.
During the orientation they consult with the family on the patients needs. My father liked his sweat pants and long sleeves and I go to visit and they have him laying in a room cold enough to hang meat wearing only his underwear and covered with a thin sheet. No wonder he died of Pneumonia!
I asked a nurse at the VA Hospital to help him cause he seemed to be choking. She replied to me.....Unfortunately I am not a private duty nurse!!!!!!!!

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