St. Louis VA Medical Center May Have Exposed 1,800 to HIV, Hepatitis

A St. Louis VA hospital may have exposed more than 1,800 veterans to blood borne diseases and infections by not properly cleaning dental instruments. 

Patients of the John Cochran Veterans Administration Hospital began receiving letters this week warning them that they need to be tested for HIV and hepatitis due to a failure of hospital staff to ensure that medical devices were clean and free of contamination with other patients’ fluids. The hospital sent out 1,812 letters, which began arriving in veterans’ mailboxes on Tuesday.

Hospital officials say that dental technicians took it upon themselves to wash dental tools using soma and water, instead of sending them to be cleaned properly by the hospital department charged with sanitizing and sterilizing medical instruments. While the instruments were still sent on later to be cleaned, the breach in proper protocol could have still led to veterans being put at risk, hospital officials said. The improper cleaning procedures went on from February 2009 until March 2010 before inspectors discovered the error.

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A special clinic and education center has been set up at the hospital for those who may have been treated with unsanitary equipment and exposed to blood borne disease. The special clinic and center includes a hotline, free blood testing, counseling and a patient orientation explaining the problem.

The VA hospital system has faced substantial criticism over the quality of medical treatment provided at other medical clinics in multiple states throughout the course of 2009. Investigators from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported in June that a cancer unit at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center mishandled nearly 100 cases involving radiation treatment and suggested that staff involved had altered records to cover mistakes. The VA is also still dealing with the fallout from colonoscopy problems at VA centers in Tennessee, Georgia and Florida, where contaminated equipment exposed thousands of veterans to hepatitis, HIV and other blood borne diseases. Lawmakers blasted the VA in a hearing last July for the repeated lapses in veteran care.

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2 Comments

  • CarterApril 2, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    As I website possessor I conceive the subject material here is rattling excellent , appreciate it for your efforts.

  • jenniferJuly 27, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    im sickened this is how we take care of the people who put their lives on the line for OUR freedom

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