Monday, October 23, 2006

VA Patients Warned Of Possible HIV Exposure

It's been an uneasy weekend for some patients of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Minneapolis. A letter postmarked Friday says they may have been exposed to Hepatitis or even HIV. The risk is very small, but patients with questions haven't been able to get them answered. Instead, they had to address their concerns to a recorded message. One patient, who wished to not be identified, said he is angry something like this could have happened. But, even further, he's lost sleep because there hasn't been anyone available to answer his questions.The safety alert involves patients who have had prostate biopsies during the past six years, from Sept. 27, 2000 to Sept. 28, 2006. The letter from the VA Medical Center says a device was not cleaned properly, stating, "Although it was cleaned and disinfected, the needle port on the device was not scrubbed with a brush which is like a pipe cleaner." A spokesperson with the VA Medical Center said there is no evidence of contamination of the equipment with Hepatitis or HIV. The alert was merely issued as a precautionary measure. In April of 2006, a national alert went out warning VA hospitals using this equipment there was a potential problem with the cleaning and sterilization process. The spokesperson could not divulge currently how many patients were potentially exposed. In the letter, patients were given three contact numbers to schedule follow-up appointments and tests. Unfortunately, patients had to leave messages all weekend. The hospital spokesperson said that issue will be addressed by administration Monday.