More than 500 patients of the Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center will be notified that they may be at risk of infection due to “an improperly cleaned medical scope.” The Buffalo News reported that manufacturer instructions “may not have been followed” by staff during the disinfection process for the reusable equipment.
If there is a place that shortcuts shouldn’t be taken, it’s in the process of disinfecting and cleaning medical equipment. Proper training, oversight and attention to procedure can mean life or death in a hospital. The Buffalo VA released a statement saying the employee involved was “immediately relived from the position,” however, that doesn’t indicate what disciplinary actions will be taken.
Not only may 500 veterans have been infected at the Buffalo VA, but according to reports, they haven’t been notified yet. One local veteran, Scott Frank, says he learned about the possibility of infection from news reports on the issue. When he called the VA, his clinic told him “they don’t have a list of affected patients.”
It now appears that veterans in the Buffalo area who’ve had endoscopies at the VA will have to continue waiting for notification that they may have contracted an infection.
This is not the first time the VA has had to warn its patients about the risk of infection. Less than a year ago, the Tomah Wisconsin VA had to notify about 600 veterans that they could be at risk for hepatitis or HIV. A dentist on staff had been using his own dental equipment that didn’t go through the proper sterilization process.
Exposing veterans to an increased risk of infection is avoidable, if standards are followed and procedures adhered to. Buffalo’s VA is just another example of a lack of quality care at the VA and how that can affect veterans.