Mike Wereschagin in a recent article on TribLIVE, chronicles the shocking response to the Legionnaires disease outbreak by the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital that we’ve been following on this site for some time.
According to the in-depth article, there were multiple instances where the VA chose not to disclose to patients with pneumonia-like symptoms that they were sick with Legionnaires disease, despite believing the contrary.
Moreover, the records are now showing that the VA hospital had treated eight veteran patients for Legionnaires disease before the CDC was even aware that an outbreak had begun.
What’s worse, according to the article, is that when the veterans were diagnosed with having contracted Legionnaires, officials at the VA hospital told them that they may have gotten the disease elsewhere (at home, on vacation, the gym, the grocery store). Essentially anywhere but at the VA hospital. Meanwhile, the legionella bacteria was repeatedly found in the hospital during the same time period the disease was being contracted and patients were being diagnosed.
One individual in particular checking into the hospital, contracted Legionnaires the following day, and was not told about it until nearly 10 days later. And rather than being told by a VA doctor, he was told by someone believed to be a CDC official.
In another instance, the VA attempted to pass blame for the illness by suggesting the disease was community-acquired (meaning they could not have gotten the disease from the hospital). What’s worse, is once diagnosed, the doctors suggested that a recent trip to Mexico was the source of the disease, rather than the hospital.
For the individual that wasn’t told for 10 days about contracting the disease, he and his wife sued the federal government for negligence and loss of consortium. The government has responded by saying that he cannot sue, because he was a volunteer, and technically an “employee” of the hospital. I discussed in detail this particular legal issues and possible remedies at stake for a volunteer in this situation.