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GAO to investigate infection-control breaches at VA

Infection Control Today/AP, August 2, 2010

The Associated Press is reporting today that several veterans who received dental treatment at the John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis have tested positive for the hepatitis virus; however, additional testing will determine if they were infected via contaminated dental equipment that was not properly disinfected and sterilized. In related news, Missouri Sen. Russ Carnahan announced on July 29 that two independent panels will investigate the recent safety lapses at the John Cochran VA Medical Center. The Government Accountability Office is broadening the scope of an existing VA investigation to include the Cochran issue; and the VA's inspector general has agreed to a bipartisan request made last week to launch a formal investigation. GAO staff briefed Carnahan's staff regarding an ongoing investigation into reported problems related to processing reusable medical equipment at several VA medical centers across the country. This investigation will now also include the John Cochran facility, where problems with the sterilization of dental equipment may have exposed more than 1,800 veterans from Missouri, Illinois and other states to bloodborne pathogens.