The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) cannot reasonably assure patients that the reusable equipment its caregivers use is being cleaned and maintained properly. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported Sept. 5 that the Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISN) could not produce conclusive evidence that inspections were conducted in 27 of 39 instances.
The equipment in question includes surgical instruments and other reusable items, including endoscopes — all of which must be cleaned, sterilized and stored properly after each use. The shortfall primarily “related to quality and training, among other things,” GAO stated in its report.
A VHA official told GAO that the agency was unaware of the lack of complete inspection results, because VHA depended upon VISN to ensure that inspections take place and the results are recorded.
“Without analyzing and sharing complete information from inspections, VHA does not have assurance that its VAMCs are following … policies designed to ensure that veterans receive safe care,” GAO stated.