(CNN) — A Missouri VA hospital is under fire because it may have exposed more than 1,800 veterans to life-threatening diseases such as hepatitis and HIV.

John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis has recently mailed letters to 1,812 veterans telling them they could contract hepatitis B, hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) after visiting the medical center for dental work, said Rep. Russ Carnahan.

Carnahan said Tuesday he is calling for a investigation into the issue and has sent a letter to President Obama about it. “This is absolutely unacceptable,” said Carnahan, a Democrat from Missouri. “No veteran who has served and risked their life for this great nation should have to worry about their personal safety when receiving much needed healthcare services from a Veterans Administration hospital.”

The issue stems from a failure to clean dental instruments properly, the hospital told CNN affiliate KSDK. The hospital has set up a special clinic and education centers to help patients who may have been infected. However, Carnahan said he feels more should be done and those responsible should be disciplined. “I can only imagine the horror and anger our veterans must be feeling after receiving this letter,” Carnahan said. “They have every right to be angry. So am I.”

This is not the first time this year a hospital has been in hot water for not following proper procedures. In June, Palomar Hospital in San Diego, California, has sent certified letters to 3,400 patients who underwent colonoscopy and other similar procedures, informing the patients that there may be a potential of infection from items used and reused in the procedures.

There is a reason Vets who can afford it steer clear of the VA. I only went to the VA one time, and once was enough for me.

  1. Nitroneo says:

    Welcome to Government Driven Health Care… “Change”

  2. bobbo, calling for Dr Feelgood says:

    Excerpt is pure crap. What are the ACTUAL infection rates? A hospital can clean/sterilize all their reusable instruments PERFECTLY and still get dinged for not keeping records on the sterilizer as they should be kept and hence the “possible exposure” issue is raised.

    Its a rare hospital tech/nurse that does not take such safety precautions very seriously==paperwork not so much.

    But yes, anyone intentionally certifying dirty instruments as sterile should be charged with a crime, license revoked, and so forth.

    but let’s have some FACTS rather than CONCERNS.

  3. The0ne says:

    Don’t go to Polomar Hospital! I’ve been there several times for urgent care is the “care” is laughable. More insulting is I keep getting these baby doctors that could care less but complete their whatever and move on.

    VA Hospital at UCSD is ok but that’s my opinion from over 20 years ago 😛 Before becoming and engineer, I’ve studied medicine for 4-5 years and did my interns and research at UCSD facilities. No working at McDonalds for me 😛

    Still, I truly believe if a “normal” person would to enter the VA hospital they would actually think hell had broken loose. Things are/can become quite hectic there if you’re not used to the type of environment.

  4. Animby says:

    I can’t read the original article since clicking on the link merely opens the same page in a new tab. Furthermore, I’m too damned lazy to go searching for the article since it’s after 1:00 in the morning here and I’m going to bed, soon.

    But I do want to say something and hope it gets to JCD so he can pass it on to Curry:

    When people say HIV/AIDS they are merely grouping two things together for convenience. HIV is the infection. You can be infected and not be sick. AIDS is the syndrome, the group of symptoms and signs, that an HIV infection ends up causing.

    Thank you and good night.

    [Link is fixed – thanks – ed.]

  5. Aaron_W says:

    My dad is DAV and has been in that hospital multiple times, twice this year. No dental work as far as I know. I’ve walked through there before and the first time the staff was hostile, the place stank, and the treatment was a joke. My dad went in the ICU earlier this year and that part of the place seemed better but I didn’t walk through the regular rooms to see if those were still as nasty.

    I do credit the place for opening my eyes to just how much the government “cares” for its ex soldiers. Once you aren’t killing or taking bullets for them you are just a drain on resources.

  6. Brian says:

    I go to the VA in San Francisco. It’s affiliated with UCSF, which is one of the best medical schools in the world. I belong to a HMO, but the VA is better. I have a higher co–pay, but it’s worth it. They are not stingy in their services. They’re not trying to increase their profit. Socialized medicine at its best!

  7. Dallas says:

    Hmmmm . This one hospital did not follow standard, required cleaning procedures. Surely a generic sheeple conclusion is coming. Oh wait.

  8. Aaron_W says:

    If you had ever been in there Dallas you would not assume this was a one time thing not worth getting pissed about. I don’t think they clean much of anything there.

    Watching nurses disrespect and yell at patients in pain is nice to see too. My dad had basically full body gout and was so swollen and in so much pain he couldn’t move for a week. One day we were up there and his morphine dose was over an hour late. The nurses venomous reply when my father asked for it? “You will get it when you get it”. Me and my brother had to fight the urge to slap the crap out of her right there we were so mad.

    They wouldn’t help him get cleaned up any either, just left him lying in his own bed filthy for a week. They didn’t even help him get cleaned up a bit until we started complaining about it.

    Just a terrible hospital, and all my friends with veteran fathers seem to tell similar stories.

    Vets should be getting better care than this.

  9. Improbus says:

    If you volunteer for the armed forces you are volunteering to be fucked for life. We should treat our vets better than that.

  10. markt says:

    hey john,

    i’m a fan, BUT i have to point out that a few weeks ago on DH Unplugged you said talk of a hurricane in the gulf pushing oil onshore was just “them trying to scare people.” well, it’s happened. not so conspiratorial after all. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hurricane-alex-takes-aim-at-texas-mexico-2010-06-30

  11. Ah_Yea says:


    I’ve heard the same thing about VA hospitals. I have family in the military and they Despise VA hospitals for all the same reasons you mentioned.

    Oh, and don’t bother with Dallas. He’s the DU troll.

  12. Sea Lawyer says:

    There must be something I’m missing here – so the problem is that the instruments were hand-washed AND machine cleaned, instead of just being machine cleaned? How is there a risk of spreading these pathogens?

  13. bobbo, we think with words says:

    #5–Animby==what is your concern here? You can pass the HIV on before you show AIDS so trying to stand on the mark between them is officious nonsense.

    What you SHOULD take objection to is lumping hiv/aids together with hepatitis. Then you’d have something to bitch about. Why not include aids with the common cold? Imagine the horror.

    Of course, I’m privately alluding to the inclusion of chemical weapons in with the ATOMIC BOMB and calling them together “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” I knew that was the stage for evil political propaganda, and two months later, yep, there we go invading Iraq.

    Same with lumping nation building in with War. Then all the anti-patriotic drivel the Neo-Con’s spew forth against my peace loving activist brothers gets applies to my vary same friends who are war mongering jingoists who don’t happen to want to nation build.

    Language. As powerful as bullets.

  14. deowll says:

    I’m not sure why they would object items being rinsed before putting them through an autoclave or whatever unless they were soaking in grimy water or something?

    It might be as simple as not following the book but that doesn’t explain the need to send out letters. You don’t need to do that unless something happened to prevent the machines from doing a thorough job of sterilizing them.

    VA hospitals don’t have a great reputation in my state. There were problems last year.

  15. srgothard says:

    Yet another reminder of who you want to entrust your life to: private enterprise who you can sue and who goes out of business if it fails, or the people who brought us the foster care system, inner-city schools, the prison system, the DMV, and other excellent institutions that can’t hold a candle to free enterprise innovation, efficiency, and customer satisfaction (think Apple, Sony, Panasonic, etc.)

  16. Glenn E. says:

    This SCREW-UP, and the mismatched veteran grave sights SCREW-UP, goes to show just how little the US Military cares about all former soldiers.


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