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VA Faces Lawsuits Over Cleanliness

From a seemingly unfazed Washington Post:

Negligence Suits Likely Over VA Procedures

3 Hospitals Used Dirty Equipment

By Steve Vogel
Monday, August 24, 2009

Army veteran Juan Rivera reported to the veterans hospital in Miami for a routine colonoscopy in May 2008. Almost a year later, the 55-year-old father of two learned that the Department of Veterans Affairs had not properly sterilized the equipment used for the procedure.

A test then revealed that he had been infected with HIV. "The VA has issued me a death sentence," Rivera said, according to his attorney.

A problem with sterilization practices at a VA facility in Tennessee was discovered in December, and the department has notified more than 11,000 veterans who had endoscopic procedures at three of its facilities that they may have been exposed to cross-contamination. VA has advised them to return for testing.

As of Aug. 3, eight of those patients have tested positive for HIV, 12 for hepatitis B and 37 for hepatitis C, according to VA.

Rivera, who served in the Army for 13 years and drives a truck for the U.S. Postal Service, filed notice last month of his intent to sue VA. The administrative claim, filed with VA under the Federal Torts Claim Act, says his infection was caused by the department’s failure to clean its equipment and to follow proper procedure…

Lawyers predict that Rivera’s case marks the beginning of a rush of lawsuits against VA alleging negligence in the handling of medical equipment.

Nashville lawyer Mike Sheppard said Friday that he is preparing to file claims on behalf of a dozen veterans who have contracted hepatitis B or C, as well as 50 to 60 emotional-distress claims from veterans and family members.

VA, while promising full care for those infected, has said that no link has been established between the patients’ conditions and the endoscopy procedures.

The department referred a request for comment to its Web site, http://www.va.gov, where it provides updates on patient testing. "VA will continue to notify, inform, and treat all potentially impacted veterans, regardless of risk, cause, or harm," says a posted statement.

The sterilization problem came to light when officials at the VA Medical Center in Murfreesboro, Tenn., learned that workers were sanitizing endoscopy equipment at the end of the day instead of after each procedure. The manufacturer of the equipment recommends a cleaning after each use.

"This is just a question of neglect and sloppiness," Leesfield said. "They just run people through like a mill."

All VA facilities were subsequently instructed to review their procedures and identify problems…

Isn’t it odd that we are hearing so much about the Veterans Administration’s hospitals these days? (And for that matter, the Post Office.)

Do our media masters not see the connection? Or do they just assume we won’t notice it?

Are we not supposed to realize that this is the same system run by the same bureaucrats that Mr. Obama is promising us with his healthcare reform?

Only it will be much bigger, and so will its problems.

Worse yet, it isn’t so clear whether the victims of the new system will even be able to sue.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, August 24th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

23 Responses to “VA Faces Lawsuits Over Cleanliness”

  1. Liberals Demise says:

    Amazing that the MSM can’t tie one to the other. How can one not know that if the Veterans are getting Third World treatment for allllllll the money poured into it, the samey same won’t happen when the Worlds best medical system becomes no better than a mud hut in Angola?
    Water and Vinegar don’t mix.
    Neither does Government Carpetbaggers and Medicine!!

  2. oldswimcoach says:

    Welcome to socialized medicine.

    “What we were negligent and didn’t sterilize equipment and now your going to die? Oops, sorry. By the way, we’ll cover those treatments, but since this is a new illness, your number in the queue has your AIDS related appointment scheduled for April 6, 2018 at 10:30. There will be no appointment reschedules for failure to show.”

  3. U NO HOO says:

    Uhhhhhh, where are the results of his HIV/AIDS tests BEFORE the colonoscopy?

    Just asking.

    PS, if a veteran gets HIV/AIDS from a VA hospital is it reasonable to conclude that “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” isn’t working?

  4. GetBackJack says:

    A nation of VA hospitals.

    Makes Mexico look like a reasonable alternative.

    How about we try this, first?

    The federal government gets its own house in order and proves to us how well they can run a hospital system in 23 Regions with a dozen+ medical facilities in each state making it the largest hospital administrator in the USA. That’s the VA.

    Compete head to head in fiscal responsibility, patient care and customer satisfaction.

    Then do the same with Medicare and Medicaid and EFFING THEN COME TALK TO US ABOUT TAKING OVER EVERYTHING ELSE.

    Until then


    Because this is like a guy who goes bankrupt every year knocking on my door asking for another round of mezzanine financing to tide him over til his next great idea.

    (boy, I wish we had bold and 92 point type available, Steve)

    • caligirl9 says:

      I could not have come up with a better idea.
      Fix the VA system, let the federal government show what a great job it can do in fixing this mess.
      Then look for other messes.
      Baby steps …

      Our veterans deserve better, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Seriously, it’s not that hard to sterilize medical equipment. Just takes time …

  5. pdsand says:

    “filed with VA under the Federal Torts Claim Act, says his infection was caused by the department’s failure to clean its equipment and to follow proper procedure…”

    If I’m not mistaken, doesn’t that law set limits to tort liabilities that the government can be charged for? Must be nice to already have tort reform in place for the government, I wonder how much of the current “crisis” could be alleviated if the rest of us had it?

  6. catie says:

    And this is the shinning example of what the anointed one would like everyone to experience. I’ve experienced them for a very long time and they’re awful. Where are our resident libs who think socialized medicine is a great idea and our pal Jasper who thinks that injured troops, retirees, etc. should pay out of pocked because there are a lot of “trashy” people who join the military?

    • Liberals Demise says:

      Wonder how Barry and Jasper, Dodd, Fwank, Kennedy ect would love a filthy rectal probe launched up their kazoo by a Government Health worker?
      (scratch Fwanks name off that list for obvious reasons)

    • catie says:

      Yeah, Frank would say-aaahhh could you please do that again? I’m not sure you got all the info you need-aaaahhh yes, a little to the left.

    • Liberals Demise says:

      PAWEEZE don’t SCHTOP!!

  7. proreason says:

    With so many Americans out of work, and with 687 Billion left of the stimulus, it seems like it might be a good idea to put a few of them to work cleaning up the VA hospitals.

    Of course the work would have to be done by white people and hispanics. We can’t ask our African American citizens to do something beneath their dignity. They need jobs moving papers from inboxes to outboxes for programs like Cash for Clunkers.

  8. proreason says:

    “Explains why none of the dealers are paid yet!”

    Just wait until the car payments begin to come due.

    How many of them figured Lord Obamy would waive those nasty little payments for the new cars….out of “compassion”.

    Not to suggest that anybody driving a car worth less than $4500 might not be able to afford the payments on a new one, even with a big discount. This ain’t the housing crisis after all. Certainly, everybody in THIS country learned his lesson about borrowing too much. With Mr. Obamy as Moralist in Chief, defaults should be almost non-existant.

    Even still, I can’t help but wonder.

  9. Gunner Retired says:

    Yeah this is pretty serious (like duh).

    And Massa Obamy wantsta make American health care available for all under the same program as the VA??? HMOs and medical neglect (alone) already kill a quarter million people a year.

    Anyway, for all you vet types… have you been to veteran dot com yet? And look up a site called [ Together We Served ] (one for each service).

    Thanks to those who served, and to those who supported those who served!

    Gunner Retired

  10. canary says:

    Move.org came to a town meeting. I’m a bit traumatized. The Senator welcomed them. First guestion, and this lady just started screaming for 5 minutes. Everyone was shocked and silent. The guy next to me was trying not to laugh. Then one guy that I think came off the street said he lived in area we call heroin alley. He was totally out of his mind, and when it sounded like he was finished and Senator was ready to let some ask another question, the strange man, yelled out “I have AIDS” and again everyone just got quiet and stunned.
    Anyways, the Republicans were very respectful. One angry woman kept insisting Canada had good health care and people nicely, just told her no. There’s a waiting period. And the Senator said the same, and that Canadians were coming into America toget treatment. One woman said her husband was from Canada and they excellent health care 20 years ago, and her sister-in-law had a serious back injury and waited 3 years. And the lady that was angry and screaming said she owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in health care, and I felt that showed the point was that she was getting the treatment. She was angry, and after her ranting and raving, she looked really mean, and asked the Senator are you going to help me. And he insisted she come to his office. I doubt she will. He also pointed that many who were entitled to medicare and stuff, just won’t do the paper work, and keep running up emergency bills, and he is the second politican that I’ve heard say that alot of the illegal’s over here do have health insuance.

    Anyways, it was stressful, and I actually grabbed the man’s hand next to me to hold. I felt the conservatives there were very quiet and respectful to the move.org people. Cause we are not terrorists like the media makes out to concervatives to be. Saw on news, and they mostly, showed the woman who was screaming and going ballistic. And she looked angry.
    One thing the Senator mentioned was that the health bill would not give care like the not so good care vet’s recieve. Then this black panther I guess was scary going around taking pictures. He had on front of his shirt,
    Our President’s our Black Power. And on back was a black panther, anyways, he had a back back, I was trying to get a good look at, not taking my eyes of it, til I felt it was too flat to have a bomb in it. Anyways, I thought the Senator answered things very well. I got to shake his hand, and talk to him. Lot’s of people there clapped alot. I could use a sedative I think.

    I can’t comprehend this VA mistake happening to 11,000 people. There are so many workers, I just don’t understand it. Sometimes I had assisted
    at a military hospital (not a VA hospital) there were two of us (aside the doctor that came in) I always go the unpleasant jobs, so I don’t comprehend, something going on like this. Sometimes there would be three of us in the room (aside doctor who just comes in and leaves).
    Okay so what’s happened with the Post Office.

    I am traumatized a bit. Went to townhall meeting. A woman just started screaming for several minutes. She was angry. Everyone was dead silent. Except the guy next to me trying not to laugh.

    • Liberals Demise says:

      We already know that they can manipulate the internet. Why not a computer glitch so massive that it takes the flame thrower out of the Health Care front?
      Get ready for a “CRISIS” of one magnitude or another. The GREAT BAMBOOZLER is just getting started.

  11. neocon mom says:

    Hep C and AIDS. Wow. A death sentence for 50 vets. Words can’t describe this tragedy. In a world where the media worked properly, this would be front page news.

    My mother (a nurse) told me once about a friend who accepted a job as a nurse at a VA hospital in PA. They gave her no orientation on her first day, none, whereas at most hospitals, orientation for a nurse takes at least one week, maybe two. No one to even show her what was going on. She walked off of the job, knowing she could get hired anywhere, as nurses are in short supply.

    I have heard the VA hospital in my town is better, it ought to be though, since we are in a big university town with a lot of trained medical professionals.

    • imnewatthis says:

      Nursing orientations can vary greatly in length depending on the specialty. For example, when I worked in NICU in the eighties they gave me a three-month orientation including some small classes and a preceptor. That helped me be prepared for many situations. I met an ED nurse a year or two ago who said he had a six-month orientation. I once looked into a job at a nursing -home type place that would have only given me three days orientation. My current and last jobs had orientations of about two to four weeks. They will sometimes extend it a little bit if you have little experience or think you need it.
      The idea that a US hospital would not sterilize this equipment between each patient is shocking. Who in the world did they hire to clean it? I hate to say it, but I’ve seen some lazy people working in health care settings. I’ve seen amazing people too. The quality (& knowledge base) varies widely.

  12. canary says:

    This is a link both MoveOn.Gov and the Democratic National Party are directing people too. They are still doing massive mail-outs.


  13. wardmama4 says:

    Ah yes the VA – I can’t think of much to say – other than now I am happy that my hubby hasn’t been seen by his Dr for over a year – probably saved his life!

    He just got a new VA ‘counselor’ (he is a disabled Veteran on a vocational re-training program – into normal speak – he is in college to get a job that won’t require physical labor since he can’t do that anymore) – anyway, they just met last week and it turns out, despite everything his previous counselor did not include our two youngest children as dependents in his packet – even though the son was declared Permanent Incapacitated Son (*local must update DEERs for 4 years) and We must update his disability every 5 years until he dies – so much for Permanent (which oh btw, the DEERs guy said should have been done at his Retirement).

    The story on that is just hilarious – got a letter – denied – needed two adults (medical would be nice) to verify that he was still disabled after turning 18 (this was when we were attempting to verify disability as he was turning 21 (2007)) – problem was 3 Drs/hospitals had sent letters (attached) to verify they were treating him, conditions etc – all dated after he turned 19 – and then two days later we get the DFAS-in Form 27-88 that declares permanent incapacitated.

    It would/could drive someone insane – so we copied DFAS-in Form 27-88 and copied the letter from the college (needed to keep daughters ID card for this final year of college) and send them in to now 3 years into the program to have them as dependents (and that does not count the 2 years his paperwork went via the PO around the country before finding him). And of course we won’t ever see a dime of retroactive money he has deserved apparently for the entire program.

    And in 2010 we have to do the State stuff to keep the Son’s handicap placard and in 2011 redo all this paperwork for his ID card. Oh and did I include we either have to go 1 hour North or 2 hours South for the pleasure of dealing in person with the bureaucracy (ID cards/DEERS)?

    And I haven’t even gone into the SSI fun & games which kind of make this look tame – as at least with VA & the DEERS you can make appointments and wait just a little – I think 3 hours was the shortest I’ve ever waited for SS.

    Really, really think very hard if this kind of bs & crappola is what you want – I am not looking forward to my husband actually becoming unable to work or ill – the paperwork is going to kill me. And the care is going to kill him.

    What a joy.

  14. Confucius says:

    By the way, where were the overseers?

    Congress decreed by law The Joint Commission (a.k.a. JCAHO) will review any and all hospitals that receive federal money for meeting patient safety and performance standards. JCAHO reviews hospitals every three years and has the power to cut off federal funding by “de-certifying” any hospital that fails to meet any standards.

    One such standard is the sterilization of reusable colonoscopy equipment between each and every patient. There are no exceptions.

    This can be found at JCAHO’s very own website (www.jointcommission.org):

    –In 2007, the one and only VA hospital in Miami, FL got JCAHO’s coveted “Gold Seal of Approval.”
    –Ditto for the one and only VA hospital in Murfreesboro, TN.

    On the state level, let’s not forget the FL and TN Departments of Health which are supposed to review these hospitals before renewing their licenses every year.

    Let’s also not forget the performance reviews each and every hospital is supposed to conduct internally every month.

    So for much for the overseers.

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