VA Hospital Says Problems Corrected at Augusta, Georgia Hospital

The Department of Veterans Affairs is claiming that it has fixed cleanliness problems at one Georgia VA hospital that may have exposed veterans treated there to dangerous, deadly diseases, such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. The Augusta hospital is one of several VA facilities where <"">shoddy colonoscopies and endoscopies are alleged to have occurred. As of this week, eight VA patients have tested positive for HIV, 12 for hepatitis B, and 37 for hepatitis C, said the Associated Press (AP)

Now, the director of the VA hospital in Augusta, Georgia has announced that she is “100 percent sure” the facility eliminated equipment sterilization issues that might have exposed 1,000 veterans seen at that center to dangerous blood borne disease, reported the AP.

Director Rebecca Wiley stated that the facility has enhanced training, minimized the amount of locations that clean medical equipment, and implemented monthly inspections to review sterilization processes, said the AP. “The VA has engaged in a very aggressive approach in assuring all reusable medical equipment is properly processed and is safe for use,” Wiley said. “In Augusta, I’m 100 percent sure,” the AP quoted.

Some veterans have filed compensation claims. “There have not been a significant number at this time … We are paying special attention to those clients. We’re assisting those veterans with their claims and making sure that process is as expedient as possible,” Wiley told the AP following the hearing.

Wiley was responding to a senatorial request for a progress report following news that the VA hospitals in Augusta, Georgia; Miami, Florida; and Murfreesboro, Tennessee could be at risk for spreading disease in patients who received diagnostic procedures in which equipment was not correctly sanitized, said the AP. The request was made six months ago by Senator Johnny Isakson (Republican-Georgia), according to the AP. At Augusta, two patients tested positive for HIV, two for hepatitis B, and four for hepatitis C, noted the AP. The issues at Augusta involved a laryngoscope, which is used to look in the throat; Miami and Tennessee’s issues involve endoscopes used in colonoscopies, explained the AP.

The VA continues to maintain that there is no way of confirming how the patients contracted the diseases, but is offering treatment to impacted veterans free of charge, said the AP

Unfortunately, this is only one of three recent health scandals involving VA healthcare. Most recently, the VA sent erroneous letters to veterans with potential neurological diagnoses, but who do not have ALS—Lou Gehrig’s disease—telling them they were diagnosed with the debilitating, deadly disease. At last count, some 600 veterans received the distressing letters.

Last June, the brachytherapy program at the VA Medical in Philadelphia was shut down, after it was learned that scores of veterans had received incorrect radiation doses over a six-year period.

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