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VA Continues Notification Process for Veterans Affected by Reprocessing Issues
Date:4/3/2009

WASHINGTON, April 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced 3,174 Veterans have already been notified of the results of testing they underwent recently; that testing was conducted because of improperly reprocessed endoscopy equipment that may have been used in their care. These Veterans, in the Tennessee, Georgia and South Florida areas were among 10,555 Veterans sent letters offering free testing.

VA patients, who believe that they may have been exposed to cross contamination, were patients that received endoscopic procedures at the VA's Murfreesboro, Tenn., facility from April 2003 to December 2008 and the VA's Augusta, Ga., hospital from January 2008 to November 2008 and the VA's Miami hospital from May 2004 to March 2009.

As of April 1, 2009, 17 Veterans have tested positive for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, or the Human Immunodeficiency (HIV) Virus. Five Veterans tested positive for Hepatitis B virus; eleven for Hepatitis C; and one for HIV. Of the positive test results, eleven were tested at VA's Murfreesboro, Tenn., facility, and six were tested at VA's Augusta, Ga., hospital. These results do not indicate that there is any relationship between these patients' conditions and the endoscopy procedures they underwent. However, VA is conducting an epidemiologic investigation to look into the possibility of such a relationship.

While reviews indicate that the transmission of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C virus as a result of endoscopy procedures is extremely small and that transmission of HIV through endoscopy has never been reported, VA will appropriately counsel and care for these patients, no matter what the source of their infections may be.

"Secretary Shinseki has demanded that all Veterans enrolled with VA get the best health care available anywhere," said Michael J. Kussman, MD, MS, MACP, VA's Under Secretary for Health. "We have an obligation
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SOURCE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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