Sunday, April 18, 2010

WATCHDOGS BLAST: Columbia VA Hospital over poor inspection report

COLUMBIA, 4/18/10  (Beat Byte) -- 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  "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 City.

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 such exposures.

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 instrument."

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