DUBLIN, Ga. — The VA hospital says more than 4,000 veterans need blood tests because they may have been exposed to unclean medical equipment there.
The Carl Vinson Medical Center halted all operations from January 12th-14th of 2022 because of concerns of reprocessing reusable medical equipment.
Manuel Davila, the director of the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center, says they, "Pulled all of the items off the shelf, and we also pulled our staff offline as well since there was a question of competency."
The problem came to light when a hospital staff member raised concern about the sterilization process.
"We immediately engaged one of our sister facilities in Augusta who sent out a sterilization team," Davila said.
The VA is notifying all veterans who had certain procedures within the last year.
"Those veterans that were identified will be receiving a letter in the mail not only explaining what happened, but also explaining the next steps," he said.
Those next steps include testing for bloodborne illnesses. The VA recommends, not requires, potentially-exposed veterans get tested for illnesses like hepatitis B and C, and HIV.
The VA offers those tests for free and the results should come back in the next one to two months. Right now, the hospital is focused on doing what they can.
"We want to regain the trust of our patients. We certainly don't want the trust to be strained, and understand how something like this could be a challenge there," Davila said.
They are also investigating how and why sterilization processes may not have been followed correctly, and Davila says they will be thorough.
"If we find information or we find concerns, then we may look back further than January. We may go back two years or we may go back three years. It just depends what we find in the initial lookback," he said.
After clinical review, the Carl Vinson Medical Center says the risk of infection is determined to be very low.
Davila says the final findings of the review should come back February 24th. Veterans who have questions about the issue can call the Dublin VA at 478-274-5400.