11,000 veterans who had colonoscopies at U.S. Veterans Affairs hospitals may have been exposed to hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.
The veterans were advised equipment used during their treatment was not sterilized. Of those so far that responded by having follow-up blood checks, 8 have tested positive for HIV. Twelve of the veterans have tested positive for hepatitis B, and 37 have tested positive for hepatitis C.
This week it was learned a 55-year-old North Miami man, Juan Rivera, a thirteen-year Army veteran with a wife and 5 children, filed notice last month that he will sue the Federal Government claiming he was infected with HIV during a colonoscopy at the Miami Veterans Administration hospital. He had a colonoscopy at the hospital in May last year.
Rivera is suing the government for $20 million.
On March 28, the VA department wrote to more than 3,000 veterans who had colonoscopies at the Miami VA hospital advising them that improperly cleaned equipment might have exposed them to hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.
VA officials say endoscopy equipment was rinsed instead of being sterilizing as was required by the manufacturer’s directions.
Similar problems were uncovered at VA hospitals in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Augusta, Ga. The total number of veterans subsequently blew out to more than 11,000.
Following congressional inquiries, Miami VA hospital director Mary Berrocal disciplined up to 10 employees.