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Veterans Get Tested for HIV and Hepatitis After Colonoscopy


Earlier this week, it was announced that veterans in South Florida may have been exposed to hepatitis and HIV due to the improper cleaning of equipment used for colonoscopy. The Miami VA has now assigned additional personnel to the Special Care Call Center for Veterans. The personnel will help make appointments and answer questions.

The time frame in question for the exposure appears to apply to patients who had colonoscopies performed between May 2004 and March 12, 2009. Letters were sent to 3,260 patients on Monday March 23, 2009 who may have been exposed. The Miami VA says there is no increased risk to patients who had this procedure outside of these dates.

Information for veterans:

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Call the Special Care Call Center at (305) 575-7256 or 1-877-575-7256, 7 days a week, 24 hours-a-day.

Miami VA Medical Center Special Care Clinic is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Special Care Clinics at the Broward County VA Clinic, the Homestead VA Clinic and the Key West VA Clinic will be open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Miami VA will arrange for Veterans located outside of South Florida to receive service at a VA facility closest to them.

The risk of cross-contamination is reported to be low in healthy individuals, in the range of 1 in 1.8 million. The real problem is with patients who may be immune-suppressed, such as patients receiving chemotherapy. There risk is higher, but not known by how much higher.

This is not the first incident in which veterans may have been exposed to infection during colonoscopies. Last month, the Department of Veterans Affairs alerted about 6,400 patients in Tennessee that they might have been exposed to infectious body fluids during colonoscopies from 2003 to 2008. Another 1,100 veterans treated in Augusta, Ga., received a similar notification.

Miami Veterans Affairs Healthcare System
New York Times