VA facility notifies patients about contaminated colonoscopy equipment

Veteran Affairs

In the second recent announcement of a slip-up concerning colonoscopies at Veteran Affairs facilities, officials of the Miami Veterans Affairs Healthcare System have notified nearly 3,260 patients that their colonoscopies had been carried out using unacceptably sterilized apparatus.

Though VA maintained that the risk of infection due to contaminated equipment was quite negligible, it has urged the affected veterans – who had colonoscopies between May 2004 and March 12, 2009 - to get tests for HIV, hepatitis and other diseases.

Meanwhile, two Florida lawmakers - Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Kendrick B. Meek – have pressed for an official inquiry into the matter by the inspector of the VA, saying that such cases chip away at the effectiveness of the system on the whole.

In a letter to retired Gen. Eric Shinseki - the Veterans Affairs’ secretary - Nelson wrote: “I am requesting that the VA Office of Inspector General begin an investigation into the potential problems of contamination; whether any patient has contracted an infection from unsterilized equipment; and, most importantly, how we can prevent such problems from happening again.”

Furthermore, Nelson also mentioned the likelihood of contamination at facilities in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and Augusta, Georgia; and has urged the VA to commit provision of medical care to people who have been exposed to a disease due to its negligence.