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Tests show 18 Buffalo VA patients infected with hepatitis

Photo from VA Website

Test results show 18 Buffalo Vetrans Administration patients are infected with hepatitis B and C, although it's not clear if they were infected because the hospital was re-using one-time-only insulin pens. The VA started mass testing of patients in the wake of discovery the hospital was improperly re-using the pens. A total of 716 patients were potentially infected and nearly 400 have been tested. Nearly 100 refused to be tested and 174 have died.

Rep. Chris Collins' office says many veterans died before the hospital was alerted to the re-use of the medical devices and because many patients haven't yet been found. Some test results are still in the works.

Collins told reporters too many things have gone wrong across all of the VA's.

"I'm sure they do things right. But, frankly I believe the secretary should be relieved of his job. I believe the undersecretary should be relieved. You have to clean house at some point in time. To bring someone in who says veterans come first. Not career bureaucrats where they seem to have a job that's safe. They have given bonuses out to their employees," said Congressman Collins.

Collins' office shared the following figures late Wednesday:

  • Of the 716 veterans possibly exposed, 174 passed away prior to the alert
  • Of those living, 394 veterans have been tested
  • 12 tested positive for HEP B  (VA says there is no way of knowing if this exposure is how the patient contracted disease)
  • 6 tested positive for HEP C (VA says there is no way of knowing if this exposure is how the patient contracted disease)
  • 27 results still pending
  • VA still trying to contact 94 veterans to get tested
  • 26 refused to be tested

Not long after the revelation at the Buffalo VA, Olean General Hospital admitted it, too, may have re-used insulin pens.

Collins will address the news at a late evening news briefing at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

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