VAHC stressing patient safety

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is calling for a special training campaign on safety, called a “Step-Up,” March 8-4 at all medical centers and outpatient clinics to ensure VA staff follow the highest standards for patient safety.

“The safety of our patients is our foremost concern at VA,” said Dr. Michael J. Kussman, VA’s Under Secretary for Health. “Therefore, I am ordering all of our centers and clinics to re-examine their procedures and safeguards so we know that Veterans will not be put at risk by the people they have come to trust.”

The nationwide Step-Up is the culmination of a VA education program to implement stronger procedures and better accountability at VA health care facilities. The training was triggered by VA inspections that found reprocessing of endoscopic equipment did not follow the manufacturer’s exact instructions at two VA medical centers. The facilities — located in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Augusta, Ga. — have already taken corrective action.

VA officials are not aware of any patients having been harmed by improperly reprocessed equipment. Although risks are small, the department is being very conservative and notifying patients who might have been treated by the affected equipment.

Normal activities will continue during the Step-Up at all VA facilities, but with extra emphasis on safety and proper processing protocols.

Specific efforts will include retraining on reprocessing endoscopes, establishment of easily-tracked accountability for instrument processing, and training on standard operating procedures by facility leadership.

Patient appointments should not be affected, but individual facilities will notify patients if schedule changes are necessary.

DAV vans

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization is running a VAHC van from Durango on Tuesdays and Thursdays — call Mike Dunaway, 247-2198 — and from the Farmington area on Mondays and Wednesdays — call Harriet Mulnix (505) 793-1782.

Further information

For information on these and other veterans’ benefits, call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center. The office number is 9731-3837, the fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-6648, and e-mail is afautheree@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m to 4 p.m, Monday through Friday.