Hundreds of veterans at risk for infection from unsterilized VA dental equipment
WASHINGTON — Nearly 600 veterans learned this week that they could have hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV because a Department of Veterans Affairs dentist did not correctly disinfect his equipment over a one-year period, according to a VA statement.
The Tomah VA Medical Center in Wisconsin sent letters to 592 veterans Tuesday informing them of the possible infections, including the virus that causes AIDS. The VA is offering free screenings, and those who test positive will receive free VA treatment.
The VA said risk of infection was low, but it was contacting all veterans who might have been exposed “out of an abundance of caution.” As of Thursday, there was not a confirmed case of a veteran contracting an infection from the unsterilized equipment.
The dentist is no longer seeing patients and was reassigned to administrative duties. In a statement, the VA said actions were pending to “ensure that those responsible for this serious breach of patient trust are held accountable.”
“Failure to follow established infection control procedures is not acceptable, and we take the safety of our patients seriously,” Victoria Brahm, director of the Tomah VA hospital, said in a written statement. “We are deeply sorry for the concern this has caused veterans and their families.”
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