Infection control problems emerge at three VA hospitals

Here's an ugly problem that has just come to light. The VA is reporting that three of its patients have tested positive for HIV, each of whom were exposed to contaminated medical equipment at one of its hospitals.

The problem would be unpleasant, enough no matter how the three got infected, but what arguably makes it worse is that each were infected at different hospitals, one at a VA facility in Murfreesboro, TN, one at a facility in Augusta, GA, and a third in Miami. Not only that, there have been six positive hepatitis B tests and 19 positive hepatitis C results at the three facilities.

Now, a total of more than 10,000 veterans who were exposed to the endoscopic equipment--which wasn't sterilized properly--are all being tested. 

The VA has instituted a safety training campaign on this subject, but execs don't know if veterans treated with the same endoscopic equipment at its other 150 hospitals might have caught an infection before it began. All told, an alarming possibility. (Readers, if you have any perspective to share on whether the VA outbreak is commensurate with what you've seen in problem situations at other large chains of facilities, please feel free to write.)

To learn more about the outbreak:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece