VA Officials Grilled Over Botched Colonoscopies
June 17, 2009
On Tuesday, Veterans Affairs officials apologized before a House subcommittee looking into the handling of a hepatitis and HIV scare at VA health care centers in Miami, Augusta, Ga., and Murfreesboro, Tenn.
The VA has said self-reports from its facilities indicate the mistakes that placed about 10,000 patients at risk for blood-borne infections were limited to the three centers at the center of the investigation. But the inspector general's report on 42 randomly selected VA centers found just 43 percent had standard operating procedures in place for endoscopy equipment and could demonstrate that staff were properly trained for using the devices.
Lawmakers expressed disbelief that VA officials had not immediately tightened procedures after first learning of the problems earlier this year. Shinseki pledged to require center directors to verify in writing that they are complying with guidelines.
Several VA officials with private hospital experience said similar discoveries in the private sector would not have been publicized without specific knowledge that a patient was harmed. Daigh noted his investigators tried unsuccessfully to get information about potential problems from private hospitals.
"If this is happening in the VA, what is happening ... in our greater health system?" asked Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.).
06.16.2009; Ben Evans
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