For several years now, veterans going to the VA -- not all and a small number in the veterans population -- have been finding that seeking treatment puts them at risk for exposure to HIV, hepatitis B and C and other things.
Apparently no one was properly trained on how to clean medical equipment before reusing it. So let's say I go in and I have HIV. They operate on me (lipo!) and then I go back to my room. You're now in the same operating room waiting for your heart surgery. They use the same equipment. And don't clean it. So you're at risk of catching my illness. Do you follow that?
Now instead of addressing this when they knew, they drug their feet, the VA. In the snapshot, C.I.'s got a bit of an exchange between Ranking Member Bob Filner and the VHA guy Robert Petzel like "pretzel." Filner notes that it it took 8 weeks of discussion for Petzel's crowd to figure out what to do (begin notifying patients who were exposed).
Thought the three or so years this has been going on, the VA keeps maintaining it's taken care of and all's well.
But it's not and today the Committee just wasn't in the mood.
It was a very lively hearing.
Republican Ann Marie Buerkle telling Petzel that ". . . at the very least that care should be what the industry offers."
Congress member Mike Turner insisting that Petzel had been stonewalling them, delcaring "no one has been held accountable" and "We have a failure of accountability."
Then the two got into a dispute over whether or not Petzel could allow Turner to see the files. According to C.I., Turner is correct. Petzel is incorrect. Petzel refuses to turn over files on this claiming the attorneys have said it would be illegal. Turner states he's spoken with the VA's attorneys and they say he can share the files with Congress, that it's his (Petzel's) decision. I asked C.I. in the middle of this who was telling the truth and she said Turner.
I didn't doubt her but she was proven correct when Turner backed Petzel into the corner saying he'd meet with the attorneys again but wanted Petzel there and 'if they tell you we can see them, you will show them to us'. Petzel hemmed and hawwed before declaring that if the attorney's told him it was his discretion, then he would consider whether or not to show them. (Prior to being backed in the corner, Petzel was insisting to Turner that he wanted to show the files, all of them, but the attorneys wouldn't let him.)
"There is no patient information that's being protected here," Turner insisted. "You are not prohibited from releasing them."
Right after that Bob Filner made clear how displeased he was and stated, "We don't know that there's been accountability." He also stated that out of all the people who may have been infected, it's rather sad that only three people have been punished.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"