VA Hospitals in St. Louis Improve, but Still Have Issues

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Thursday, November 1, 2012

A report from the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General indicates that there are no “major faults” at the John Cochran and Jefferson Barracks medical centers in St. Louis.

The hospitals, which have been plagued for years with poor patient care, even received positive scores for painkiller management and colon cancer screening program, according to a story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

However, not all the news is good. The report details dirty exam rooms, soiled linens, holes in walls and improperly stored oxygen tanks and fire extinguishers. None of these issues directly affected patient care, but other problems could.

The report found that follow ups with some patients in the mental health area were missed and patients suffering from traumatic brain injuries failed to receive “appropriate follow-up care.”

While hospital administrators were positive, commenting that the report was an “opportunity to demonstrate improvements,” critics noted that the John Cochran facility only scored a 44 percent on patient satisfaction surveys, compared to a 64 percent rating at VA hospitals across the country.

Hospitals are dangerous places in the best of circumstances. With the concentration of people who are sick and the need for complex medical procedures, malpractice can always occur. Nevertheless, the St. Louis facilities had more problems than the typical risk of infections.

Two years ago, veterans who had been treated in the hospital’s dental clinic, could have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis and other infections due to improper sterilization of dental equipment. In 2011, surgical tools with rust stains were discovered.

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