Florida: North Miami Man Files Notice to Sue VA Over HIV Infection
August 20, 2009
On July 20, Army veteran Juan Rivera filed notice that he is suing the federal government after allegedly becoming infected with HIV during a colonoscopy at the Miami VA hospital. The 55-year-old married father of five claims he was infected by improperly sterilized endoscopy equipment around May 19, 2008.
According to Rivera's attorney, Ira Leesfield, the six-month notice is a requirement of suing the federal government under the Federal Torts Claim Act. The veteran is seeking $20 million in damages, said Leesfield. The government has six months to settle before the case goes to trial in a US federal court, he added.
Earlier this year, the VA sent notices to some 11,000 veterans who received care at its facilities in Miami, Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Augusta, Ga., warning that they may have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis B and C due to improperly cleaned endoscopy equipment. Among the veterans who have undergone follow-up blood tests, eight have tested positive for HIV, 12 for hepatitis B and 37 for hepatitis C.
VA officials have said there is no way to know whether the patients were infected due to infection-control lapses at the three locations or if they were already infected prior to their procedures. The VA has said the rate of infections is consistent with or less than what would typically be found among similar populations. However, it has promised to care for all those infected.
08.20.2009; Fred Tasker
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.