Thousands of veterans could have been exposed to HIV at Missouri VA hospital

If you think government run health care is higher quality or more equitable than privately run health care, think again. The Department of Veterans Affairs administers a health care system for our military veterans that is run and paid for by the US government. Unfortunately, it has become quite well known that it’s an inferior system to the privately run health care system the vast majority of the American people enjoy. However, I don’t think we understood just how inferior:

More than 1,800 veterans may have been exposed to several potentially deadly viruses including HIV after they received dental work at a St. Louis-area VA hospital.

On Tuesday, The John Cochran Division of the St. Louis Veterans Affairs Medical Center began sending out letters to 1,812 veterans who were treated at the facility from February 2009 to March 2010.

According to a statement from the VA, the dental equipment was sterilized – but it was “not sterilized to the exact specifications of the manufacturers guidelines.”

Although the VA concluded that the risk of “infection was extremely low,” the agency decided it was still necessary to disclose the error to patients who were treated at the medical center during that 13-month period. They are now offering free blood tests to screen for HIV as well as hepatitis B and C.

Cleaning and sterilizing medical instruments is one of the most basic parts of medical care, yet this VA hospital in St. Louis botched it. And it’s not the first time a VA hospital has had issues with safety and quality, as this article points out:

This is not the first time a VA hospital has come under fire for medical negligence.

In November 2009, serious safety issues continued to plague a southern Illinois Veterans Affairs hospital even after major surgeries were suspended because of a spike in patient deaths.

According to a federal report, surgeons at the VA medical center in Marion, Ill., performed procedures without proper authorization, patient deaths were not assessed adequately and miscommunication between staff members persisted.

The hospital had been under intense scrutiny since 2007 when a former surgeon resigned three days after a patient bled to death following gall bladder surgery. All inpatient surgeries were suspended within a month.

In August 2009, it was uncovered that six more cancer patients were being given incorrect radiation doses at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia, bringing the total to 98 veterans who were given the wrong treatment over a six-year period.

Our veterans risked everything to protect our nation and our freedoms and this is the best we can do for their health care?

As bad as this sounds, though, it’s run of the mill for government run health care systems, and it will eventually be our future if ObamaCare is implemented.

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