September 29, 2014

Iowa VA patients not told of Legionnaires' bacteria in hospital water: Report

Patients at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Iowa were not told that deadly Legionella bacteria was found at the facility, the Des Moines Register reported Sunday.

VA officials plan to spend $6.5 million to rid the Iowa City VA hospital of Legionella, which was found in the water pipes. Patients were not told of the presence of the bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s disease, the Register reports.

“There is a very, very low risk involved at these levels,” VA pathologist Stacy Klutts told the Register.

But that was of little comfort to a veteran and former VA hospital employee quoted by the Register, who said he learned of the outbreak from friends who still work there.

“I’m not looking to blame anybody,” Vietnam veteran Dick Allison said. “I only fault them for not telling people about it.”

All plumbing in patient care areas of the 600,000-square-foot facility will be replaced starting next year, according to agency plans cited by the newspaper.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports VA officials are investigating whether a Pennsylvania veteran diagnosed with Legionnaires’ might have contracted the disease at an agency healthcare facility.

So far, tests of the medical center in Oakland, Pa., have tested negative for the bacteria.

A Legionnaire’s outbreak in 2011 and 2012 at VA facilities in the Pittsburgh area led to the deaths of six patients and the sickening of at least 22 others.

Subsequent investigations have blamed management failures for the outbreak.

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