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Georgia VA warns 4,600 veterans they may have been exposed to HIV, Hep. B or Hep. C

HIV Research Program Has Global Reach (Department of Defense/Released)

The Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin, Georgia, had to stop all medical procedures and operations for two days last month due to concerns over reused medical equipment.

On Jan. 12-14 the VA halted all procedures and related operations after an internal review found not all steps were followed to ensure safe cleaning or sterilization between patients, according to a press release.

The VA notified all veterans potentially impacted by this and explained the potential risks, including transmission of Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV. Officials offered any patients who may have been exposed free testing for blood-borne pathogens. Testing is not required but anyone with concerns may come in for the testing.

The VA is offering testing through Feb. 25 at specified sites, but testing will continue after that date at the VA so every veteran has the opportunity to be tested.

In a letter to the veterans who may have been exposed over the last year, officials state the staff and clinical experts reviewed the care given to all patients in the last year to determine who may have been exposed and believe the risk is “very low.” The letter was sent to more than 4,600 veterans who had a dentistry, endoscopy, urology, podiatry, optometry, or surgical procedures.

A team from the Augusta VA Medical Center came to the Dublin VA in mid-January to reprocess all equipment. Staff from VAs in Atlanta, South Carolina and Alabama came to the Dublin VA to provide personnel training. All staff have since been retrained on all current guidelines, according to the press release.

“We’re committed to providing world-class health care for America’s veterans in a safe and healthy environment,” said Medical Center Director Manuel M. Davila. “When these issues come to light, we stop the line and confront them directly, and we use this opportunity to retrain and create best practices to improve patient safety. Accountability remains at the forefront of caring for Veterans and it is our goal to correct this issue moving forward.”

Veterans can call 478-274-5400 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday for more information.

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