More Unread X-rays, Bacteria Found at Alabama VA Facilities

Tuesday, 12 Aug 2014 02:23 PM

By Jennifer G. Hickey

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The Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS) has uncovered an additional 1,146 X-ray images that were never reviewed, according to The Montgomery Advertiser.

After an initial review, CAVHCS said 900 X-rays had not been read since 2009 and another 1,146 were discovered during a later review. The imaging system was first used in 2001, but no unread images were reported before 2009.

James Talton, the director of the system which operates Veterans Affairs facilities in Montgomery and Tuskegee, learned of the imaging issues in October 2012, according to documents obtained by the Advertiser.

Of 227 cases, 176 scans required additional clinical action, while the rest did not need follow-ups. The images of seven patients showed potential malignancies and 119 contained abnormalities which required attention.

In July, USA Today reported that a pulmonologist at CAVHCS continued to falsify records even after it was learned he had doctored more than 1,200 patient records and little disciplinary action was taken.

Veterans Affairs Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner wrote in a letter to Congress early this summer that "despite the lack of confirmation on this critical issue, Central Alabama VA Director James Talton publicly stated that the pulmonologist is still with the VA because there was no indication that any patient was endangered, adding that the physician's records are checked periodically to make sure no copying is occurring."

Problems at CAVHCS are not confined to unread X-rays.

High levels of Legionella bacteria were found in the water at both the Montgomery and Tuskegee campuses, WSFA.com reported.

There have not been any confirmed cases of staff or patients testing positive for Legionnaires' disease or Pontiac fever, the diseases which result from infection, according to emails leaked by CAVHCS staff to The Montgomery Advertiser.


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