Scott MacFarlane

Washington DC VA Medical Center Cancels Surgeries Over Concerns About Surgical Equipment Safety

The Washington DC VA Medical Center canceled at least nine surgeries Friday amid concerns about the safety of some of the surgical instruments, the News4 I-Team learned.

The surgical devices were discolored and may have been subjected to an overabundance of cleaning solution, according to an agency official.

VA national administrators are on site at the medical center on Irving Street in northwest D.C. to “ensure staff are trained appropriately in the sterile processing of instruments,” an agency official told the I-Team. The VA’s Office of the Inspector General is also reviewing the incident.

The safety concern was reported by VA employees and did not result in any harm or injuries to the medical center’s patients, a VA spokesman said.

The incident is the latest in a string of safety concerns uncovered at the medical center. A June report by the I-Team also revealed the agency hired a contractor to fix potentially unsafe floor cracks in the facility’s surgery department in March. VA officials also ordered repairs of holes in the walls of the facility’s “center core areas,” completing the project in mid-February.

The facility suffered a cockroach infestation and a lack of sanitary conditions in its food service areas in 2015, according to federal records reviewed by the I-Team. An agency spokeswoman told the I-Team the problems have since been remedied.

A separate I-Team investigation revealed a patient’s body went undiscovered in a car in the parking lot outside the main entrance of the medical center in May. A family member told the I-Team she searched and found the man’s body after getting little response to her phone calls from medical center employees. A VA spokesman said the agency has since strengthened its security policies for monitoring patients outside the facility, including patients who appear to be sleeping in their vehicles.


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The Washington DC VA Medical Center sees approximately 98,000 patients each year. It has nearly 2,000 staffers.

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