An April 8, 2010 Inspector General's report that found deficiencies in 5 of 7 critical functions at Columbia's Harry S. Truman Veterans Administration Hospital has attracted the ire of a national VA watchdog group.
"VA OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL FINDS MULTIPLE
PROBLEMS AT COLUMBIA VA HOSPITAL," blares a headline at VAWatchdog.org.
"Problems include improper sterilization of equipment by operating room
staff," writes the organization's founder and news editor, Larry Scott, a
former U.S. Army journalist in Korea and Portugal who taught broadcast
journalism at the Defense Information School and later served as a news
anchor at WIFE radio in Indianapolis and WNBC radio in New York
Federal inspectors examined the Truman VA Hospital -- which serves
approximately 113,000 Veterans in Missouri and Illinois -- for seven facets
of patient care and quality control, including medication management and
basic cleanliness. Insufficient staff training, poor documentation, OSHA
safety violations, and improper infection control were among nearly two
dozen cited deficiencies.
In the kidney care dialysis unit, for
instance, "staff inconsistently performed and documented biological testing
and the required follow-up action" on dialysate -- the liquid used to clean
faulty kidneys, the report claims.
And nearly 70% of staff at risk
for exposure to harmful airborne diseases such as tuberculosis hadn't
received annual testing for fitness of respiratory gear designed to mitigate
The most serious violation: improper sterilization in
the Operating Room (OR). Reviewing 12 months of logbooks, VA inspectors
discovered that a quick but incomplete sterilization procedure for use only
during emergencies -- so-called "flash sterilization" -- was used in
"VA requires full sterilization to be used for all
surgical instruments," the report scolds. "Flash sterilization (a shorter
process) is to be used during a surgical procedure only in case of
emergency, such as a dropped sterilized