Feds Liable for Hepatitis Infection at VA Hospital

     MIAMI (CN) – The United States is liable to a veteran who was infected with hepatitis after undergoing a colonoscopy in which staffers used dirty equipment, a federal judge ruled.
     Robert Metzler and his wife filed suit 2 1/2 years ago in the Southern District of Florida, claiming that VA health care providers were responsible for cleaning and disinfecting the scope used in the 2007 procedure.
     Metzler discovered the illness nearly two years after his procedure when he received a letter from the VA that he should be tested for certain illnesses, including hepatitis, because some medical equipment used in the endoscopies and colonoscopies were not properly cleaned and sterilized between patients. Four days after receiving the letter, Metzler tested positive for Hepatitis C.
     Hepatitis C is a progressive, life-threatening disease that can be treated, but not cured, according to the complaint. Metzler says he suffers symptoms of the illness, including fatigue, and that the diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease also has affected his “intimate marital relations.”
     The Metzlers sought $15 million in damages.
     U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan found in favor of the couple on Oct. 8 and said he will now consider damages. He will issue findings of fact in November.

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