Nearly 600 veterans who received care at a Wisconsin VA hospital may have been infected with diseases such as Hepatitis and HIV due to violations in infection control procedures.
VA administrators say that the Tomah VA is in the process of notifying 592 veterans that they may be infected with Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, or HIV after they received care from a dentist who works there, WEAU reports.
Acting Medical Center Director Victoria Brahm said the dentist used his own equipment, cleaned it, and reused it against VA regulations.
The Tomah VA says it uses sterile, disposable equipment.
The VA states he did this for a period of one year, from October 2015 through October 2016.
The issue arose when someone filling in for the dentist’s assistant saw what was happening and reported it.
The dentist has been removed from patient care and is now working in an administrative capacity.
The VA has referred the case to the inspector general for assessment of criminal charges.
“It was purposeful that he was violating VA regulations,” Brahm said. “During all of the orientation, he used all of our equipment. He used it appropriately, so it was very purposeful from what we found in our investigation that he knew exactly what he was doing, and preferred to use his own equipment against procedure.”
The VA is offering free screenings to the veterans affected and will provide free medical treatment to those who test positive for an infection.
This is not the first time VA hospitals have come under fire. A VA hospital in Phoenix has built a backlog of cases and canceled appointments for questionable reasons, causing more than 200 veterans to die waiting for care at the facility. Also, a Chicago-area VA hospital had an infestation of cockroaches in its kitchen and have had cockroaches make their way into veterans’ food.