VA Continues Reusable Medical Equipment Notification for Veterans
Augusta ENT Clinic Notifications
The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) primary mission is to serve our Nation's Veterans. Veterans can be assured that VA remains committed to providing safe, high quality care. VA's high standards for quality and patient safety mandate transparency and accountability in its handling of mistakes or failures. In the past 18 months, VA has implemented a more stringent oversight for reusable medical equipment to ensure a safe environment. In each case where VA or others discover safety or quality of care issues, VA investigates the incident and the actions of individuals involved, notifies affected Veterans and assures proper administrative and disciplinary measures are taken.
Last year, VA contacted 1,069 Veterans who received nose and throat procedures with certain types of equipment at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center, in Augusta (CNVAMC) between January and November 2008 to offer screening for potential viruses due to reusable medical equipment that was not reprocessed according to manufacturer's instructions. In July 2010, VA brought together a team of clinicians and initiated a second, more extensive review of patient records (approximately 2,300) to ensure no other patients were missed. As a result of this exhaustive search, VA has identified 33 additional patients and is offering free screening for certain viruses. This is not a new incident, but an expanded notification concerning what occurred prior to our review in early 2009. VA is making every effort to contact each and every one of these patients to explain the situation and to offer appropriate screenings. Veterans can be assured that VA remains committed to providing safe, high quality care. We are also making every effort to keep Veterans informed and to improve our processes.
VA's Foremost Concern is the Safety of Patients
VA believes that safety lapses are unacceptable, no matter how small the risk. As part of the Department's commitment to reducing and preventing inadvertent safety risks to patients, personnel at the Augusta VA Medical Center have been assigned to ensure that affected Veterans receive prompt testing and appropriate counseling at no cost to the Veteran. The data on this page reflect the most current notifications, testing, and results, and will be updated when new information is available.
The Department is a leader in the health care industry in developing and nurturing a culture of safety at all its facilities. Patient safety managers at all 153 VA hospitals are leading efforts to reduce and eliminate safety risks. Although the risk of cross contamination and exposure to these infections is statistically low, our policy is to treat all Veterans potentially affected, regardless of risk, regardless of cause and without cost to Veterans. VA's processes lead the nation in terms of transparency and accountability.
We deeply regret that this situation occurred, and Veterans and their families can be assured VA is taking all necessary steps to make certain testing is offered quickly and results are communicated timely. VA understands the responsibility and trust Veterans place in us. Staff across VA is doing everything possible to address this situation and prevent them from occurring again.
Read about VA's national improvements to SPD processes.