Vet Gets Legal Help For Hepatitis Contraction
Infectious Bodily Fluids Transmitted In Colonoscopies
Reported By Deanna Lambert
Already, at least 10 patients are positive for hepatitis B or C or HIV. A
Murfreesboro man is among them, and he's now getting legal help.
Attorneys Derek Artrip and Tim Smith are now representing a Murfreesboro man who
has tested positive for hepatitis C.
"This is a man in his 50s, been married many years, has children, and now he's
going to have to have protected sex for the rest of his life with his own wife,"
Medical records have Artrip and Smith feeling certain their client was infected
after a colonoscopy at the Murfreesboro V.A. two years ago.
In December, the V.A. discovered the wrong tubing valve had possibly been used
during procedures dating back to April 2003, causing infectious bodily fluids to
be transmitted between patients.
"When he found out that he was positive, they asked him to come in, and they sat
down and talked with him about it," said Artrip. "His wife was there, and he
said, 'Oh no, I can't be the only one,' and the doctor said, 'Oh no, you're
But for weeks, the V.A. has insisted no one tested positive until Wednesday when
the V.A. announced there are 10.
"I'm lucky I didn't get nothing," said Bobby Brown. "I am thankful for that."
Brown is thankful his blood tests came back negative.
"They (are) supposed to take care of you, and right there they let you down, in
my book," said Brown. "They should clean up their act."
After learning this week the same mistake also happened at V.A. centers in
Georgia and Florida, Washington lawmakers are now demanding answers.
"We owe these folks the highest obligation because they have protected our
country; we should protect them," said U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, a Nashville
Democrat. "So Congress needs to do whatever it takes to make sure all of our
veterans are safe."
Part of a V.A. report finished in January about what went wrong at Murfreesboro
details what caused colonoscopy equipment to be switched, used incorrectly and
even not sterilized properly. But of 10 different contributing factors, seven
times the V.A. blames "unclear product instructions" from Olympus for the
Channel 4 has tried repeatedly to contact Olympus for answers, but they stand by
their original statement issued on their Web site Feb. 11, reminding customers
about proper reprocessing procedures.