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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
FLORIDA: Robert Metzler Colonoscopy Hepatitis C Lawsuit: South Florida Veteran Awarded $1.25 Million
Staff Writer
November 26, 2012 (Palm Beach) (11.23.12) Aids Weekly Plus

A 70-year-old Air Force veteran and his wife have won a $1.25 million lawsuit against the US government because it is likely that he contracted hepatitis C at the Miami Veterans Administration Medical Center. On November 21, U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan ruled that the Medical Center’s staff did not properly clean colonoscopy equipment, which probably caused the patient’s infection. He received his colonoscopy in 2007 and had tested negative for hepatitis C in the previous year, but tested positive in 2009. A VA investigation found that more than 11,000 veterans received colonoscopies with equipment that had not been cleaned properly between 2004 and 2009 at VA hospitals in Miami; Murfreesboro, Tenn.; and Augusta, Ga. Rather than sterilizing the equipment with steam and chemicals as recommended by the manufacturer, the hospitals had been rinsing the equipment. Investigators who took apart water tubes that were supposed to be ready for use also found “discolored liquid and debris.” Dr. David Nelson, a board-certified internist, testified that “there is a less than zero percent chance” that the veteran contracted hepatitis through his colonoscopy, but according to the judge, the veteran had no other risks associated with contracting the virus.