The Miami Herald is reporting on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) handing down a discipline against the Director and Ex-Chief of Staff of the Miami, Florida VA Medical Center. The discipline is related to the “lack of oversight” used following the discovery of un-sanitized equipment being used to perform colonoscopies.
According to the VA, Miami VA Hospital Director Mary Berrocal, along with her ex-Chief of Staff Dr. John Vara, waited too long to inform 79 Florida veterans they may have been exposed to hepatitis or HIV as a result having undergone colonoscopies with the tainted equipment.
Officials at the Miami VA hospital did originally give notice to approximately 2,500 veterans potentially at risk for infection. The 79 veterans in question were not part of that original notification procedure, however, and were not notified of their potential risk for more than 1 year. There are 12 other veterans who were not notified about their potential risk for another full year after those 79 were alerted.
The Miami VA tested 2,500 potentially infected veterans and found 5 positive HIV tests, 8 positive hepatitis C tests, and 1 positive hepatitis B test. At this point, however, there is no way of knowing if those positive tests were the result of the veterans’ exposure to the “improperly cleaned equipment.” Nevertheless, the VA has offered lifetime health care for those who delivered positive tests.
The VA’s investigation determined Berrocal and Vara played significant roles in the delay in alerting veterans to their risk. The VA, however, will not release information confirming or denying the implementation of their recommended actions.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, a South Florida disability attorney from LaVan & Neidenberg is ready to help. To learn if you are entitled to certain programs and benefits contact our veterans disability rights firm today – 1-888-234-5758.