Monday, March 23, 2009

Veterans in Miami find out no one's responsible anymore

This is such a sad and sick story. From McClatchy.

The office of Kendrick Meek, US Rep. from south Florida, put out a statement noting that "Veterans who got colonoscopies through the Miami VA medical system are at risk of being infected with hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV through the procedure... "

Evidently whoever was in charge neglected to ensure that the medical equipment used in those colonoscopies was cleaned properly--according to the manufacturer's instructions.

This did not just happen one time. This failure to clean instruments properly went on from May 2004 to the present.

Some 3,260 veterans are involved!

The Veterans Administration has sent letters to most of the veterans urging them to come in for blood tests, but the VA has not been able to locate 700 vets who have moved out of the area.

Fortunately, so far as the VA knows, no one has been infected.

Read this mea culpa from Miami VA director, Mary D. Berrocal, in a letter to the veterans: "As a result of a manufacturer's alert and our review of endoscopy procedures, we have become aware of a potential health risk. Although we believe that this risk is minimal, we would like to provide you with additional information and follow-up care."

Would that comfort you, knowing the risk was "minimal"?

How can this kind of thing happen? I think part of the reason is that we live in an increasingly dog-eat-dog world (as evidenced by the Wall Street fiasco) and few people care enough about other people to do their jobs properly, even if other people's lives are at stake.

Perhaps a more impertinent question is this: How can this happen in a country where 90% of the population claim to believe in God, and where close to half claim to attend worship on a weekly basis, and whole bunches have given their lives to Jesus? Some of the religious must work for the Miami VA. The bad guys can't all be atheists, can they?


Our Family Life In Miami said...

This is not only sad and's negligence and a tremendous disrespect to the people that put their lives on the line for every man, woman and child in the US. Who was in charge...someone should pay!

Bob Poris said...

I have been a disabled vet since 1946 and used the VA in several states and not in others. Since moving to Florida in 1988, I have used VA facilities in St. Petersburg, , Palm Beach, Ocala and Lecanto, all with excellent results! Most of the people working with patients are very helpful and go the extra mile. Occasionally I have met some rudeness but it is very rare. Doctors and staff usually are as devoted or more than my private doctors and try harder.

The large problem over the years has been Congresses refusal to vote for mandatory funding for the VA. A bill has been presented every year since Bush took office to vote for mandatory funding but was defeated every year on party lines while Republicans held the majority. The VA expects the bill to pass this term. This will allow the VA to plan at least two years ahead for the first time!

We also hope to roll back the increase in drug co pays from the $8 per 30 days that Bush installed when he took office. It was $2 for many years previously. The VA also hopes to process the thousands of disability claims that have been held up for YEARS!

Ask a disabled vet how the system worked over the years and find out for yourself. I think it is a good example of single payer and government medical care. I also am happy with my Medicare services and my AARP supplemental insurance, both of which I pay for. I also use private doctors of my choice and have for years.

In the old days, my private health care cost me a fortune and had many restrictions.

I think the government can do better than wasteful, profit hungry businesses with high administrative costs.

Jacob said...

I don't think we disagree at any point, Bob...I think you're absolutely right about everything you mentioned.

Money might have been part of the problem in Miami with regard to the colonoscopy mess, but I don't think so. I think it involved a few people who just didn't care enough to make sure the surgical instruments were cleaned properly.

And when such perfidy may result in AIDS/HIV or hepatitis B or C, I think it is criminal.

My problem is not with the VA or with the concept of government-sponsored health care. My problem is with those people in positions of responsibility who fail to do their job (whether in Miami or at any other VA institution).

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