VA halts surgeries at St. Louis hospital

February 4, 2011

(AP) -- The VA Medical Center in St. Louis halted surgeries indefinitely this week after a regular inspection showed possible contamination of equipment, the hospital's medical director said Thursday.

RimaAnn O. Nelson said spots were noticed on surgical trays and water stains on at least one surgical instrument before any surgeries were performed Wednesday. She said hospital officials have since inspected all other surgical materials and had vendors at the center Thursday inspecting and testing all surgery-related equipment.

Nelson did not say how many patients might be affected or when surgeries might resume.

"VA will work with all affected veterans to reschedule surgical appointments or arrange for alternate care in any urgent cases," Nelson said in a statement.

The episode is the latest case of problems at the John Cochran VA Medical Center.

Last year, the VA notified 1,812 veterans who were treated at the center's dental clinic from Feb. 1, 2009, through March 11, 2010, that they might have been exposed to HIV, B and hepatitis C because of improperly sterilized dental equipment. They were urged to be tested for the diseases.

The VA announced in July that of 1,022 veterans who were tested and told of the results following the alert, two tested positive for and two for . The agency later said no known cases of disease were linked to the sterilization problem.

St. Louis VA medical facilities provide services for veterans in Missouri and Illinois. The U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs held hearings on the situation at the St. Louis center in July.

U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, a Democrat from St. Louis who announced his appointment to the committee Thursday, has been especially critical of the medical center's response to the contamination problems.

"How many times does something have to happen before they fix this facility?" Carnahan said in a statement. "Clearly the problems there go well beyond one department. It's time for a full, top-to-bottom, independent review of the entire facility. It needs to happen and it needs to happen now. The health and safety of our veterans is too important to wait."

In 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs notified about 10,000 veterans who were treated at VA hospitals in Augusta, Ga., Miami and Murfreesboro, Tenn., that they may have been exposed to infections during colonoscopies or other endoscopic procedures where equipment had been improperly cleaned.

More than 50 subsequently tested positive for infections - including at least eight who tested positive for HIV. The VA said at the time it was impossible to tell where those infections came from, but it is offered free medical treatment to all those affected.

In a follow-up, the VA's inspector general reported in September 2009 that the department's medical facilities had made significant progress on fixing endoscopic procedure problems. The report said surprise visits to 128 medical facilities found all of them compliant in following procedures.


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1 / 5 (2) Feb 04, 2011
I hardly believe my eyes reading this.

These people (doctors, nurses, administrators) should have their licences revoked permanently, and they should serve jail terms of several years. This kind of people should not be in any kind of contact with any patient, ever again.
5 / 5 (1) Feb 04, 2011
Having had to work at JCVA, I'd have you reconsider judgement on surgeons/nurses. As a surgeon/RN we do not personally sterilize equipment except intra-op when items need to be "flashed". a similar scare also occurred Jan 2010 when it was rumored that sunflower seeds were found in so-called "sterilized" trays. all ORs were immediately closed. The normal course of sterilization involves returning used trays to the ancillary staff who then sift through them, ensuring the particulate matter has been scrubbed off. Trays then are sterilized either chemically/autoclave/both. I don't know the exact process as i was trained to perform surgery, not to run a sterilization core. There are checks & balances to ensure the packaging is not compromised prior to even placing trays on sterile fields. The fact that this recurs is yet another indication of poor system management @ JCVA. Repeated efforts to improve care repeatedly failed in the face of events like this. I would never return to work there.
1 / 5 (4) Feb 04, 2011
Government run 'health care'.
The VA has been praised by many supporting a govt operated medical system.
5 / 5 (1) Feb 04, 2011
Government run 'health care'.
The VA has been praised by many supporting a govt operated medical system.


This is a failure of political will to adequately FUND the VA.

Especially on the Right, there is NO failure of will to fund the DOD.

When it comes to honoring the sacrifices of the men and women who SERVED in the Military, however,
well- those poor assholes are largely on their own, since the VA is operated by the government on a not-for-profit basis, and PRIVATE ENTERPRISE CAN'T GET THEIR GREEDY HANDS ON IT, and therefore, there is little political will to make certain that there is adequate funding for the VA's operations.

Afterall- according to the Right, especially, it is just another example of a socialistic entitlement plan.

Even if the VA was privatised(heaven forbid), I seriously doubt that the quality OR quantity of care would improve, as both of those concepts are entirely secondary to the overriding greed for profit.

1 / 5 (4) Feb 05, 2011
This is a failure of political will to adequately FUND the VA.

So? It still the fault of the GOVERNMENT!
A market based hospital wants to make a profit while serving the needs of its clients.
A private hospital has incentives to perform. What are the incentives for a govt hospital? Perform poorly and blame lack of funds in order to obtain more funding. Where are the incentives to serve their customers?
as both of those concepts are entirely secondary to the overriding greed for profit.

No one wants to buy a poor quality product. VA patients are forced to 'buy' a poor quality product'. Private hospitals ARE motivated by profit to produce a QUALITY product.
Remember the '70s? USA car companies lost profit to foreign auto companies that sold a quality product. Now US companies DO attempt to produce quality.
Govt run anything has no incentives to produce a quality product.
1 / 5 (4) Feb 05, 2011
"Wealth comes from successful individual efforts to please one's fellow man. That's what competition is all about: outpleasing your competitors to win over the consumers" - economist Walter Williams.

What motivates the govt to please those subjected to its power?
"Medicare and Medicaid scams cost taxpayers more than $60 billion a year,..."
"Seeking the public’s help to catch more than 170 fugitive fraudsters, the government has launched a new health care most-wanted list, with its own website."
Why hasn't the govt been aggressively prosecuting fraud in the past?
1 / 5 (4) Feb 05, 2011
A fine example of what I spoke:
"Indeed, leave it to Government Motors to spend tens of billions of taxpayer dollars producing a product that doesn't make any money."
"Yes, GM may struggle along for a few years. It may even be profitable in the short term, but at what cost over the long term?

For Washington, the answer is irrelevant. When the business of making cars becomes political, it will be at the whim of the political cycle - subject to huge gambles with taxpayer money, short-term thinking, and run by Washington insiders. "
5 / 5 (1) Feb 05, 2011
Just stop replying to the troll, he'll either go away or wear his fingers down to nubs typing comeplete nonsense.

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