Veterans have given a lot to the United States. Many have suffered wounds and injuries while serving overseas. After a veteran's duty is over, it is only reasonable to provide him or her with health care through the Veterans' Administration (VA) hospital system. Twenty-one Tennessee veterans are now claiming, however, that they were infected with HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C after undergoing a colonoscopy treatment at the VA Hospital in Murfreesboro.
These infections mirror infections in Miami and Augusta, Georgia, too. One Miami veteran has filed a $30 million medical malpractice suit against the Miami VA Hospital. The veteran said that after he had gone in for a routine colonoscopy, he was infected with hepatitis C because the hospital had not properly sterilized the equipment. Hepatitis C can be a fatal disease, and the veteran is seeking $20 million for himself and $10 million for his wife.
In 2009, a VA Administrative Investigation Board looked into infections after colonoscopies and discovered that the VA Hospitals of Murfreesboro, Miami, and Augusta had performed more than 11,000 improper procedures. According to the Miami Herald, after the colonoscopies, the hospitals had rinsed the equipment, but did not sterilize it. The manufacturer recommends that colonoscopy equipment be sterilized by steam and chemicals before being used again.
In Tennessee, three veterans have already filed suit. Eighteen more have started the process of suing the VA Hospital of Murfreesboro. One of the veterans claims he was infected by HIV and eighteen claim they were infected with hepatitis B or C. Two cases have been dismissed by the federal courts, and the VA is asking the court to dismiss four more.