Veteran contracts HIV from unsterilized endoscopic equipment

The Department of Veterans Affairs has confirmed at a patient has tested positive for HIV, contracted from unsterilized endoscopic equipment. In addition, at least five other veterans have tested positive for hepatitis B, and 11 veterans have tested positive for hepatitis C. 

The VA, earlier this year, warned more than 10,000 veterans to get blood tests because they could have been exposed to contamination while getting colonoscopies in Murfreesboro, TN, and Miami. It recently learned about infections patients also contracted from endoscopic equipment used at an ear, nose and throat facility in Augusta, GA. All three sites failed to properly sterilize the equipment between treatments.

Some of the patients were exposed the Hep B, Hep C and HIV viruses for more than five years at the Murfreesboro and Miami hospitals. So far, only 3,174 of an estimated 10,000 who may have been infected have been located and notified of their test results. A number of patients' warning letters were returned, and the VA is attempting to find everyone who needs to be tested. 

All three sites used endoscopic equipment made by Olympus American, which said in a statement it is helping the VA address problems with "inadvertently neglecting to appropriately reprocess a specific auxiliary water tube." The company has conducted a national training campaign to ensure that VA healthcare workers are using and sterilizing the equipment properly.

To learn more:
- see the Associated Press story