Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers: VA Patients at RiskApril 27, 2017
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for Veteran’s Affairs has released a preliminary report detailing the inadequate administration of the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C. According to the report, conditions including unsanitary storage of sterile medical supplies puts patients at unnecessary risk.
Although the OIG is not finished with its survey of the medical center, it released the preliminary report out of serious concerns over the problems of hospital negligence, as well as the lack of leadership at the center. Permanent positions such as Associate Medical Center Director have been left vacant for nearly 18 months.
Some of the issues revealed in the OIG inspection report include insufficient inventory management and organizational matters. Because expired surgical equipment was on hand, it was used by a surgeon on a patient in June 2016. Other expired sterilization tools were also still in use meaning that there were nearly 400 unsterile items that could have been mistaken for sterile.
The OIG found some $15 million worth of supplies were not accounted for over the past year putting them in danger of being misused or lost. Multiple medical procedures at the center have been delayed or canceled due to shortages of supplies. Since 2014, the medical center has recorded 194 patient safety reports that were related to lack of equipment or supplies.
Sterile supplies were being stored in dirty facilities. In five instances, the supplies were in an area doubling as patient care areas or offices. The inspection found that out of 25 storage areas for sterile supplies, a total of 18 were dirty.
When the OIG finishes the inspection, a final report will be released to the public. Until then it has given notice to the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) of the issues in the preliminary report. The Department of Veterans Affairs responded by removing the medical center director and assigning him to temporary administrative duties. He has been replaced with Army Col. Lawrence Connell as acting director. An incident command center has also been set up with temporarily assigned staff to deal with the problems, but the OIG considers this action too short term to be able to rectify the conditions.
The Department of Veterans Affairs issued a statement saying that it “considers this an urgent patient-safety issue.” It promises to carry out its own review of the findings, and if need be, take disciplinary actions in accordance with the law.
No instances of a patient being physically harmed was named in the report. The investigation was spurred by a tip to the OIG. Documents about the equipment and supply problem at the Washington, D.C. facility were forwarded to the inspector’s office by a confidential source.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Fight for Patient Rights
At LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, our Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers have handled countless medical negligence and personal injury cases. We are dedicated to protecting the rights of patients who have been injured by the actions of medical professionals. Contact us online or call 800-547-4LAW (4529) to schedule a free consultation.
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