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VA Hospital Exposed 1800 Veterans to HIV

Veteran News
Veteran News
September 22, 2016
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A St. Louis Veteran’s Administration hospital may have exposed more than 1,800 veterans to HIV and other diseases in 2010.The story, which broke six years ago on CNN, has been trending widely today and yesterday throughout the veteran community because it appears that many veterans never knew that it had happened.The John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis mailed letters to 1,812 patients saying that they could have contracted hepatitis B, hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) after visiting the medical center for dental work.The issue stems from a failure on the part of dental staff to properly clean their instruments.An association chief of staff at the hospital told a CNN affiliate that some dental technicians broke protocal by handwashing some instruments before inserting them into cleaning machines.The tools were only supposed to be put into cleaning machines.The VA hospital set up a clinic and education center to help patients who may have been infected.“I can only imagine the horror and anger our veterans must be feeling after receiving this letter,” said Rep. Russ Carnahan, a Democrat from Missouri."This is absolutely unacceptable," said Carnahan. "No veteran who has served and risked their life for this great nation should have to worry about their personal safety when receiving much needed healthcare services from a Veterans Administration hospital."


VA Hospital Not The Only One To Expose Patients to HIV

Also in 2010, a hospital in San Diego informed 3,400 colonoscopy patients that they too may have been infected with diseases due to improper instrument sterilization.In 2013 a follow up story from the St Louis Post-Dispatch detailed the Cochran VA Medical Center’s need to improve its sterilization procedures, even two years after the problems were made public.Inspectors recommended three steps to the hospital in order to improve sterilization and fix training procedures. Two out of three recommendations were not put in place by the hospital.VA spokeswoman Marcena Gunter said that no veteran was harmed by the improper sterilization as of 2013.Cochran continues to rank last out of 126 VA medical centers for patient satisfaction.

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