Patients Test Positive for HIV, Hepatitis B & Hepatitis C After Exposure in Veterans Affairs Hospitals


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It has been confirmed by the Veterans Affairs agency that three patients exposed to contaminated medical equipment in three different Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals have tested positive for HIV.  The VA has advised more than 10,000 VA hospital patients to undergo blood tests after exposure to endoscopic equipment that was not properly sterilized after use on other patients. Additionally, there have been six patients who have tested positive for the hepatitis B virus and nineteen patients who have tested positive for the hepatitis C virus. At this time the VA is claiming there is no way to prove the patients were exposed to the viruses at its facilities.

Allen and Allen attorneys are experienced in handling cases involving patient exposure to deadly viruses, bacteria and catastrophic illnesses caused by negligent medical care. We have been successful in representing patients who have contracted a life threatening virus or illness due to the negligence of others. If you or a loved one have been treated by a VA Hospital for an endoscopic procedure and have tested positive for HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C, please call us today for a free consultation at 866-388-6313.

For additional details on the story, the following is an excerpt from FoxNews.com:

"The VA earlier this year warned more than 10,000 veterans to get blood tests because they could have been exposed to contamination while getting colonoscopies in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Miami.

The endoscopic equipment in question was also used at an ear, nose and throat facility in Augusta, Ga. All three sites failed to properly sterilize the equipment between treatments.

The VA has said it does not yet know if veterans who were treated with the same kind of equipment at its other 150 hospitals may have been exposed to the same mistake before the department had a nationwide safety training campaign. An agency spokeswoman has said the VA is certain the mistake with the equipment was corrected nationwide by March 14.

The problems dated back for more than five years at the Murfreesboro and Miami hospitals.

So far, less than a third — 3,174 — have been notified of their test results. The agency also is trying to locate patients whose warning letters were returned.

The statement Friday did not say where the patient who tested positive for HIV was treated, and the agency did not return telephone and e-mail messages Monday.

In all, at least five veterans have tested positive for hepatitis B and 11 for hepatitis C, which is potentially life-threatening.

No infections have been reported from Miami.

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

The problem put patients at risk of being exposed to other patients' body fluids."

Source: April 07, 2009; http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,512963,00.html; "VA Medical Center Patient Tests Positive for HIV After Exposure to Unsterilized Equipment,Thousands Told to Get Tested." Associated Press.

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