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Endoscopic issues addressed by VA

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Inspector General inspected every VA medical site with endoscopic equipment, independently verifying the success of a national program VA instituted to ensure safe and sterile procedures for reprocessing endoscopic equipment across the country.

“VA’s top priority is to provide the highest quality care to the Veterans of this Nation,” said Acting Under Secretary for Health Dr. Gerald M. Cross. “This report shows VA’s unparalleled quality assurance programs identified a risk and successfully corrected that risk on a national scale.”

The VA Office of Inspector General report, dated Sept. 17, 2009, shares findings from 129 medical sites inspected across the country.

Only one discrepancy was found, a typographical error in certification paperwork.

In late 2008 and early 2009, VA found that inconsistencies in the sterilization of endoscopes at three medical centers led to possible infection risks among 10,000 patients. VA facilities rapidly notified patients of the risk and offered testing. Since that time, VA has been able to contact over 99 percent of these patients. Although 56 patients potentially screened positive for infections, though it is uncertain whether the endoscopes are the source. The national information line at (877) 345-8555 is available for patients and their families.

VA instituted a national review of facilities in February 2009, to ensure all VA medical sites are trained on proper endoscope use and cleaning procedures. VA then established a new policy for the reprocessing of reusable medial equipment, including certification of staff, to prevent future incidents. VA has also currently taken over forty disciplinary actions related to this event.

Following the completion of this national effort, the Office of the Inspector General inspected every VA medical site with endoscopic equipment for compliance with manufacturers’ instructions and VA’s national policy on endoscopic equipment and procedures.

DAV vans

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization is running a VAHC van from Durango on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call Mike Dunaway, 247-2198, and from the Farmington area on Mondays and Wednesdays, call Harriet Mulnix, (505) 793-1782.

Durango VA Clinic

The Durango VA Outpatient Clinic is located at 1970 E. 3rd Ave. Durango, CO 81301 (the old Mercy Medical Center). Phone number is 247-2214.

Further information

For information on these and other veterans’ benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center on Hot Springs Blvd. The office number is 264-4013, the fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-6648, and e-mail is afautheree@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.