The Miami Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical hospital performed colonoscopies using unsanitary and contaminated equipment on hundreds of patients. As a result, some of those exposed veterans now suffer from conditions ranging from hepatitis to HIV. Although the VA continues to maintain there is nothing connecting infections to VA endoscopic equipment, just over 2,500 veterans from the greater Miami, Fla. underwent colonoscopies in the Miami VA and are now at risk. To date, 5 veterans have tested positive for HIV, 8 have tested positive for hepatitis C, and 1 tested positive for hepatitis B.
There are currently 45 lawsuits pending against the Miami VA medical center. Once the proper notices are filed, it will be facing 113 more lawsuits, and that isn’t even close to being the end of things. The numbers are staggering and the Miami VA is not the only VA medical center that has recently exposed patients through improperly cleaned equipment. According to the VA, medical centers in Tennessee and Georgia also used contaminated equipment between 2004 and 2009, All told, there were approximately 11,000 veterans who underwent colonoscopies between these 3 locations.
There were multiple reasons why the situation developed as it did. An investigation into their own environment brought many of these problems to light. Some of the biggest reasons for the unsanitary colonoscopies the investigation exposed were:
- Inadequate training;
- Lack of supervision;
- Lack of communication;
- Personnel performing procedures for which they were unqualified; and
- Equipment being delivered directly to operating rooms and bypassing VA approval processes.
Once the problems were discovered, those veterans at risk were notified but they were not notified all at once due to more errors on the part of the Miami VA. It took 3 rounds of notifications, over a period of 22 months, to contact everyone possibly affected and to tell them to undergo testing.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact LaVan & Neidenberg. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.