Augusta exam may have exposed veterans to infection

Monday, Feb. 9, 2009 3:31 PM
Last updated 3:33 PM
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About 1,200 veterans may have been exposed to infection after they were treated with improperly sterilized equipment at the Augusta Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, the health system announced today.

But Acting Chief of Staff John W. Brice stressed that the risk of actually being infected was “incredibly small.”

Letters to those affected will be going out today and Tuesday and will include how to make an appointment to come in for a free screening. The letters are going to those who received an endoscopy in the ear, nose and throat clinic at the VA between Jan. 2, 2008, and Nov. 6, 2008.

The endoscopy equipment was sterilized with a disinfecting solution but it was not the solution recommended by the equipment manufacturer, Dr. Brice said.

“They were disinfecting the scopes, just not using the approved agent, he said. “So we believe that the risk of any transmission of disease to be incredibly small but it’s our policy to be transparent on these things. And any time there’s any conceivable adverse outcome, we want to be open with it and let everyone know.”

The problem was discovered in November and the VA launched an investigation, including consulting with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to determine whether veterans were actually at risk, Dr. Brice said.

“It took a period of time for us to get the truth together,” he said.

Veterans will be screened for infections such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. It applies only to those who received the procedure in the ENT clinic; veterans who received an endoscopy in other parts of the health system are not at risk, Dr. Brice said.

The Augusta VA has set up a nurse communication center to help speed up appointments and answer questions. Those affected can call (706) 731-7229 or 1-888-483-9674 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. After hours, call 1-800-836-5561.

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JesusIsComing
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JesusIsComing 02/09/09 - 05:02 pm
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Great!

Great!

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 02/09/09 - 05:12 pm
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Thank you for the info.

Thank you for the info.

georgiagator25
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georgiagator25 02/09/09 - 06:10 pm
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Wow the almost the same thing

Wow the almost the same thing happened here in El Paso, Tx.

corgimom
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corgimom 02/09/09 - 07:44 pm
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Somebody (and more than 1

Somebody (and more than 1 person) got infected, they aren't disclosing it just because they are wonderful people. How awful to be infected with those infections that can not only kill the patient, but that are all transmitted through sexual intercourse to innocent people.

SandyK2005
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SandyK2005 02/09/09 - 08:19 pm
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Oh, HIV isn't much of a

Oh, HIV isn't much of a worry, as there's medication that can put it so under ice it's almost undetectable now. But Hepatitis, there's nothing to stop those flareups that can be fatal (or extremely painful -- like bilateral femoral head necrosis [bone literally dying] -- all akin to the pain of bone cancer); or may eventually require a liver transplant. Terrible that it took 3 months (enough time for incubation of a virus and it taking root before even a dx) to notify patients, too. This VA hospital needs to know medical conditions can't wait 3 months to be "transparent", while the politics (and lawyers) argue the fine print.

corgimom
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corgimom 02/10/09 - 06:30 pm
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Sandy, that is one of the

Sandy, that is one of the stupidest things you have ever said on here. HIV isn't much of a worry? There are a lot of people with HIV that develop AIDS anyway. HIV drugs are outrageously expensive. And HIV and Hepatitis can take years to turn up. What is wrong with you??

corgimom
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corgimom 02/10/09 - 07:05 pm
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And since you like Web sites

And since you like Web sites so much, go read this one. http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-09-017.html This is a grant application form for the NIH.

SandyK2005
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SandyK2005 02/11/09 - 02:34 am
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Corgimom, HIV can be

Corgimom, HIV can be controlled to nearly non-detectable levels. It's a v-e-r-y slow evolving virus, even. It's not even the death sentence it once was (and the USA isn't some third world country). Hepatitis, that's a different case, as that disease will flare up and can kill regardless of anti-viral medication if it incubated. Furthermore, if detected in time, and if judged appropriate with Hepatitis a treatment of immuned gamma globulin (in this case hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG)) can even stop the disease in it's tracks (not 100%, but enough to reduced ALL obtaining it) -- Literature... http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1532125 . Time is critical here in reporting. Please, learn some medicine first before blowing nonsense.

corgimom
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corgimom 02/11/09 - 09:01 pm
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No, HIV cannot be controlled

No, HIV cannot be controlled in all people. If it is, why are so many people developing it and why are so many people developing full-blown AIDS? I stand by what I said-this is the stupidest thing you have ever said on here. And just where did you get your medical degree? On the Internet? Instead of riding the bus around Augusta, YOU should be at the NIH. Just think, you could eradicate the US of HIV. How could you miss this opportunity, since you are an expert on it? And before you run your mouth- or fingers- on something that you know very little about, the virus constantly mutates, so any drugs that are developed wind up being ineffective on some people. That's why there is no vaccine against it. And not everyone has strong immune systems, especially people that are already ill with some other chronic disease. And since the meds themselves can be toxic to people, it is not the minor little worry that you think it is.

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