Veteranclaims’s Blog

March 24, 2009

Veterans at three VA medical facilities potentially exposed to hepatitis during endoscopy

Over the past couple of months three different VA medical facilities have reported that thousands of veterans have potentially been exposed to Hepatitis B or C or HIV due to improper sterilized endoscopy equipment. According to “Dr. John Vara, Chief of Staff for MVAHS, it’s not clear what went wrong with the sterilization procedures. One report has Vara saying that “the problem was detected because of a manufacturer’s alert and a review of endoscopy procedures.” CBS4.com, Peter D’Oench reporting.

Then according to Medical News Today, as reported by Catharine Paddock, PhD: Dr. John Vara, “told the press that during an internal safety review they discovered on 4 March that a part of the equipment used in colonoscopies and other gastrointestinal procedures was not being disinfected, only rinsed. This was contrary to the manufacturer’s recommendation, he said.”

Regardless of who is at fault, veterans need to get tested to find out their current medical status.

The questions we want to see answered is what prompted the examination of endoscopy procedures and sterilization procedures in the first place. Was it based on information originating from the company or originating from the VA, and what is this information, provide it to the veterans.

For those veterans exposed through the Veterans Affairs hospital in Miami, some 3,260 patients The South Florida Sun Sentinel website reported, “The VA announced special care clinics had been set up in the Miami VA, the Broward County VA Clinic, the Homestead VA Clinic and the Key West VA Clinic to handle screening of patients who may be infected.

Officials also established a special care 24-hour hot line at 305-575-7256, or toll free, 1-877-575-7256.”[reported by Mike Clary and Bob LaMendola]

We hope that all potentially exposed veterans will get checked, because as The Channel 4 I-Team reported n March 12, 2009, it “has learned of at least a half-dozen patients who had the procedure there[York Hospital in Murfreesboro] and have tested positive for hepatitis.” The question is whether they had hepatitis before being exposed or contracted from the exposure, regardless they got tested and are now, hopefully, receiving proper medical care because they got tested.

Brief History of Endoscopy Exposure Reports

March 24, 2009, Two conflicting Reports:
Medical News Today, as reported by Catharine Paddock, PhD: “John Vara, chief of staff of the Miami VA Health Care System, told the press that during an internal safety review they discovered on 4 March that a part of the equipment used in colonoscopies and other gastrointestinal procedures was not being disinfected, only rinsed. This was contrary to the manufacturer’s recommendation, he said.”

“Dr. John Vara, Chief of Staff for MVAHS, says it’s not clear what went wrong with the sterilization procedures. Vara said the problem was detected because of a manufacturer’s alert and a review of endoscopy procedures.”[CBS4.com, Peter D’Oench reporting]

On Feb. 9, 2009, Tom Corwin with The Augusta Chronical reported that, “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.”

On February 17, 2009, Kristy Davies with the Courier Post Online reported that “Nearly 6,400 patients of the Alvin C. York VA Medical Center [Murfreesboro, Tenn.] will receive letters notifying them that they could have come in contact with contaminated endoscopic equipment if they received a colonoscopy there between April 23, 2003, and Dec. 1, 2008.”

On March 24, 2009 Jim Preppard with 10 Connects.com reported that “Officials say about 3,260 patients at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Miami should be tested for HIV, hepatitis and other diseases after receiving colonoscopies with equipment that wasn’t properly sterilized.”

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