The Department of Veteran Affairs has confirmed that three patients who were tested at three of its facilities have tested positive for the HIV virus, including one patient from Augusta, Georgia. The two other patients are reportedly from Murfreesboro in Tennessee and Miami.
These patients got tested for HIV after the Veteran Affairs Department asked more than 10,000 people to get tested for HIV, and Hepatitis B and C because of the risk of contamination from tainted endoscopic equipment. The equipment was used in colonoscopies in Murfreesboro and Miami, and also at an ENT clinic in Augusta. Besides, the department has also confirmed that six people have tested positive for hepatitis B, and nineteen have tested positive for Hepatitis C at these three sites. The VA however does not have evidence that these exposures occurred because of botched medical procedures at the VA facilities.
The problem apparently lay in faulty sterilization of equipment, and dates back more than 5 years, at least at the Miami and Murfressboro hospitals. The agency undertook a nationwide safety training campaign which ended on March 14th. By April 3rd, the VA had already confirmed that one person had tested positive for HIV. According to the VA, the number of people who may be at “a very small risk of harm” at the ENT facility in Augusta, is 1,069. The agency has made arrangements for veterans who have tested positive for the disease to receive counseling. There is no information forthcoming on how serious the problem is. Meanwhile, anxious veterans who have used Augusta facilities are waiting their test results.
It’s condemnable when negligence of healthcare workers exposes a patient to a serious health problem, and as Georgia medical malpractice lawyers, we regularly come across the terrible consequences of negligence by medical staff. However, when something like this happens to our men and women who have dedicated their life to the services, it strikes a special chord.