According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General released a report yesterday detailing its investigation into the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the Pittsburgh VA hospital. The report outlined several failures which are highlighted in the Tribune-Review article. These inadequacies occurred in both the prevention of Legionella in the VA water system and its handling of sick patients.
According to the Tribune-Review, the VA did not properly maintain its copper-silver ionization system, a setup designed to prevent growth of Legionella in its water system. It did not routinely or properly flush its hot water system, even in response to positive Legionella cultures. According to the article, it did not test all patients with hospital-acquired pneumonia for Legionnaires’ disease, even though VA guidelines recommended it. This went on even after the outbreak began to be reported to the public and the chief of medical staff ordered this protocol.
As reports are beginning to be released outlining results of investigations into the Pittsburgh VA outbreak, the public is gaining better insight into the failures that may have contributed to the outbreak and to the deaths of five veterans. Hopefully these insights will lead to preventative measures that will result in fewer illnesses not only in Western Pennsylvania, but across the country.
Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S. Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates on this story.