WaPo Story of VA Blunder with Colonoscopies Buried in Bowels of A-Section
As the national debate roils on about the proposed public option for health care and as newspapers face declining fortunes, one might think major newspaper editors would jump at the chance to front-page a story of government-run health care negligence.
Yet today's Washington Post buried such a story -- "Negligence Suits Likely Over VA Procedures: 3 Hospitals Used Dirty Equipment" -- on page 13 of its 16-page A-section, although the blunder in question has put some 11,000 military veterans at needless risk of infection and an official investigation of the blunder concluded there were "fundamental defects" in veterans' medical care:
Army veteran Juan Rivera reported to the veterans hospital in Miami for a routine colonoscopy in May 2008. Almost a year later, the 55-year-old father of two learned that the Department of Veterans Affairs had not properly sterilized the equipment used for the procedure.
A test then revealed that he had been infected with HIV. "The VA has issued me a death sentence," Rivera said, according to his attorney.
A problem with sterilization practices at a VA facility in Tennessee was discovered in December, and the department has notified more than 11,000 veterans who had endoscopic procedures at three of its facilities that they may have been exposed to cross-contamination. VA has advised them to return for testing.
Post reporter Steve Vogel went on to note that "only 43 percent" of surveyed VA facilities "were in compliance" with what the VA inspector general's office (IG) calls "management directives to ensure compliance with reprocessing of endoscopes."
"The failure of medical facilities to comply on such a large scale with repeated alerts and directives suggests fundamental defects in organizational structure," the IG's report concluded.