Thursday, July 01, 2010

Were hundreds of St. Louis area vets exposed to HIV and other bloodborne pathogens?

That's what you'd think if you read this somewhat over-hyped report from CNN. The problem was a deviation from the protocol for cleaning dental instruments that took place for a little over a year, discovered recently in a routine inspection. It's hard to know what the risk to the affected dental patients is. It may be very low but, according to a VA spokesperson, “not zero.”

In a rare instance of responsible reporting of health issues by popular media, the local NBC affiliate KSDK offered a refreshing nuanced account, particularly in the video here.

Meanwhile congressman Russ Carnahan, seeing a great opportunity for a little political grandstanding, wrote, in letter posted at KSDK:

The men and women who have served this nation deserve the very best health care available - anything less is intolerable.

I wholeheartedly agree. But there's no evidence to support any claim that the VA has ever delivered the best care available. It's OK, good in some facilities, but it ain't the Mayo.

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