St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 9, 2011

Two federal reports issued this week highlighted problems in several areas at John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis. The improper sterilization of dental equipment uncovered last year was "a long-standing problem that went unrecognized and unaddressed" by managers, according to a report released by the VA Office of Inspector General. Investigators revisited Cochran in August and September at the request of several members of Congress after the hospital informed more than 1,800 veterans that they may have been exposed to viruses. In a routine inspection the previous March, investigators had listed 21 problems in the dental clinic related to infection control — including tools that were visibly dirty after sterilization. Hospital staff were overwhelmed and undertrained, according to the federal report.The follow-up investigation concluded that the risk of contracting any disease from the dental tools was unlikely.

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