Veterans Treated At Problem VAs Test Positive For Infectious Diseases

March 29, 2009

In hospital and clinic settings there are certain standards of care that are expected. That includes standards such as ensuring that medical equipment used in treatment of a patient is sterile. It doesn’t matter whether that is a civilian hospital, a military hospital or a veteran’s hospital. Recently it has made headlines that veterans in several Veterans Affairs medical facilities were exposed to viral infections including hepatitis by using equipment that was not properly sterilized. So far, viral infections, including hepatitis have been found in 16 patients. More than 10,000 veterans were warned to get blood tests, because they could have been exposed to contamination at several different veterns healthcare facilities.1 That’s just NOT acceptable. For some people, those infections could be life threatening.

The Joint Commission on Accredidation of Healthcare Organizations sets standards of care practices for hospitals and clinics to follow. Those standards aren’t overly harsh, but are standards that should be practiced in every healthcare facility in this country. Why then, did these Veterans Hospitals not follow the standard of care, in regards to infection control? Why were our veterans put at risk in this manner? Those are questions that all of us should be asking right now and demanding answers. It’s not acceptable practice in our civilian hospitals and it darn well shouldn’t be in facilities that take care of our veterans! They deserve only the best medical care available in this country. Nothing less is acceptable.

I for one am completely outraged that something like this has happened to our veterans, anywhere within the VA healthcare system. The numbers of veterans who have been infected is appauling! So far, according to VA spokeswoman Katie Roberts, 10 colonoscopy patiets have tested positive for Hepatitis, after receiving treatment at the VA medical center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. 4 of those patiets have tested positive for Hepatitis B and 6 have tested positive for Hepatitis C, according Roberts. Those are diseases that don’t go away. Roberts was quick to say however that there was no way of knowing the source of the infections.

“There’s no way to scientifically prove they contracted this due to treatment at our facility,” she said.2

She went on to say that the VA will make sure that all patients who have tested positive, will the the best possible treatment. In that situation, you can bet I would not want to receive any further care from the VA system, for fear of contracting an even more serious disease such as HIV. A spokeswoman for the VA inspector general’s office, Joanne Moffett said on Friday that a review has been started.

Some veterans, have opted to seek testing from private physicians instead of the VA system. Can’t say as I blame them there. This is serious! Our veterans should get only the best medical treatment that is humanly possible. They’ve earned that right and this is a slap in the face to those who have given so much to this country.

According to Roberts, the VA healthcare system has conducted a review of VA facilities nationwide. She went on to state that the VA cannont yet say if patients at other locations were exposed to infectious diseases from improperly sterilized equipment. My thought is that Congress and President Obama need to become involved. We as citizens of this country need to DEMAND better healthcare for our veterans. This should never have happened and the VA has a duty to our veterans to ensure that something like this never happens again.

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3 Responses to “Veterans Treated At Problem VAs Test Positive For Infectious Diseases”

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