Wonder if anyone at this VA facility received a bonus for their “talent“?
The following will come as no surprise given the scandals accumulated by the VA under the Obama administration. See examples of the mishandling of our veterans’ health care here, here, here and here.
The mistreatment of our veterans is also occurring in Seattle. In early October I reported on how dozens of West Coast military veterans incorrectly received letters indicating they’d lose unemployment benefits after an overworked Department of Veterans Affairs office in Seattle lost track of records the veterans had submitted.
In May of this year, the Seattle VA hospital stranded a veteran outside the emergency room. Donald Siefken drove up to the Seattle VA with a broken foot and all he asked for was a little help getting inside. Instead, a hospital employee who answered Siefken’s cellphone call told him to call 911 himself, then hung up on him, Siefken said.
Now comes news of how the VA Puget Sound Health Care System may have contributed to the death of veteran William Piersawl. This may have been attributed to the a deadly infection he obtained with ties to dirty medical scopes and to scope-washing machines ordered recalled last week by U.S. regulators because of increased risk to patients.
That’s according to an amended lawsuit awaiting approval Monday in U.S. District Court in Western Washington, which raises new questions about ongoing problems with so-called “superbug” outbreaks in Seattle and across the nation.
William Piersawl, 60, was a 25-year Navy veteran and died in February 2013 of Gram-negative pneumonia, an infection resistant to most available antibiotics. Secondary causes included sepsis and lung cancer, his death certificate showed. His widow, Carolyn Piersawl filed a complaint earlier this year claiming that the VA Puget Sound Health Care System contributed to his death by failing to properly sterilize bronchoscopes, medical devices used to examine the lungs.
During his treatment from 2009 to 2012, Piersawl received at least two exams with bronchoscopes that had not been disinfected according to manufacturers’ instructions, leaving them “dirty after supposed sterilization,” potentially contaminated with bacteria that could have led to the infection that caused his death, according to the complaint. His widow said, “He didn’t deserve this”. The couple were married for 34 years and have three children and two grandchildren.
There was a whistleblower at the Puget Sound VA who reported on the filthy procedures being practiced at the VA facility. Barbara Deymonaz, 63, a registered nurse who worked as a nurse educator in the sterile processing unit at the Puget Sound VA from 2012 to 2013, said she complained multiple times to federal officials about lapses in procedure that put patients at risk. “Every rock you turned over, it was just a mess,” she said.
Of course, VA officials have denied all allegations in the Piersawl lawsuit. VA spokesman Ndidi Mojay said the agency cannot comment on pending litigation. A 2013 investigation by the VA Office of the Inspector General didn’t find any problems that left instruments unsterile or placed patients at risk.
But Piersawl’s case underscores concerns about deadly infections potentially transmitted by improperly cleaned medical scopes. Last year, an outbreak of multidrug-resistant infections tied to contaminated duodenoscopes — devices used to examine the gut — was linked to 39 patients at Seattle’s Virginia Mason Medical Center. Eighteen patients affected by the outbreak died, although the role the infections played isn’t clear. The outbreak prompted the hospital to overhaul the way it cleans and tests the devices, resulting in no further infections, a hospital spokesman said.
In August, VA officials released results of an investigation that found that superbug infections may have occurred at VA sites across the nation, although the risk was very low. The analysis of 40,000 patient records concluded “any transmission appears highly unlikely.” But problems with duodenoscopes at hospitals across the nation prompted the FDA to issue new guidelines for cleaning the devices — and new warnings about potential problems with other types of scopes as well.
Between January 2010 and June 2015, the agency received 109 reports concerning infections or device contamination related to the bronchoscopes. No deaths were reported. The agency emphasized that proper “reprocessing” or cleaning of such devices is crucial.
It’s not clear what specific bacteria caused Piersawl’s Gram-negative pneumonia, which was listed as his primary cause of death. No culture results were reported in his records and the scopes used to treat him weren’t cultured, either. The lawsuit is set for trial next summer, said Jessica Holman Duthie, a Tacoma lawyer who filed the complaint.
Read the whole story at the Seattle Times here.