DAYTON, Ohio — The Department of Veterans Affairs is under political fire and numerous veterans are upset after enduring uncertainty over reports of improper hygiene practices at VA hospitals.
About 13,000 veterans have been warned in the last two years that their blood should be tested for potentially fatal infections after possible exposures by improper hygiene practices at five VA hospitals in Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, and Tennessee.
In one case, a VA investigation found that a dentist who practiced at the Dayton VA Medical Center repeatedly violated safety measures such as failing to sterilize equipment or change soiled latex gloves, potentially exposing patients to HIV, hepatitis, or other blood-borne diseases.
So far, VA officials say, tests on nearly 12,000 patients have found eight HIV-positive results and 61 confirmed cases of hepatitis B or C, including three hepatitis cases at Dayton.
It’s not known how many of the positives resulted from treatment at VA hospitals or from unrelated causes.
Infections related to medical treatment are a problem at public and private hospitals nationwide.
The VA, as a government entity, must report infections publicly but most public and private hospitals do not.
The Veterans Affairs system that serves about 6 million veterans a year has been praised by medical authorities for its successful efforts to reduce antibiotic-resistant staph infections from treatment, a common problem in US hospitals.