Congressman: Dorn VA put patients at risk - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Congressman: Dorn VA put patients at risk

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Understaffing reports at Dorn VA Medical Center revealed in a recent Office of Inspector General report has one Midlands congressman keeping a close eye on the hospital's operations.

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson said Dorn VA put patients at risk by not having adequate medical personnel in place at the hospital. Therefore, Wilson's staff started monitoring the hospital daily and making recommendations to address the issues at Dorn VA.

"People's lives were at risk," Wilson said from a conference call in Virginia. "There was a delay in crucial surgeries. There were situations with infections that should not have occurred; faulty ventilation; and the closing of the operating rooms over and over again. There was an indication of a lack of proper supervision."

This week, Dorn VA announced that Bernard DeKoning will be the hospital's new chief of staff. The hospital has an interim director, but told the OIG it plans to have a director named by the end of February.

Wilson said hiring a new chief of staff at Dorn VA is a step in the right direction, but there are other positions that also need to be filled. Those positions include staff for surgery clinics and anesthesiologists.

The hospital continues to deal with negativity from the backlog of gastrointestinal cases in 2012 and now the additional surgical cases' backlog that was released in the Feb. 6, 31-page OIG report. The recent investigation showed surgical delays resulted from communication deficits and dysfunctional surgical processes, which Wilson called unacceptable.

"There was not planning for proper surgery to be conducted and then even more gruesome, truly, was the ventilation systems and the work not done correctly," Wilson said, "and so, there were infections that should not have occurred."

The OIG report said Dorn VA's infection control problem was "fragmented and inconsistent" and rarely follows up to ensure problems are solved.

WIS asked for comment from Dorn VA officials, but has not received a response.
Wilson's office did tell WIS that one operating room is expected to reopen next week at Dorn VA, but there has been no official word from the hospital.

Wilson credited the anonymous whistle blower complaints for bringing issues at Dorn VA to the OIG. Anyone with complaints about hospital are encouraged to contact Wilson's West Columbia office at 939-0041.

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