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Published on Dec 03, 2012 by Edgar Snyder

One Patient Has Died in Legionnaires' Disease Outbreak at Pittsburgh VA Hospital: Experts Cite Poor Management

legionnaires disease outbreak va hospital in pittsburgh

We trust that hospitals do everything in their power to keep their patients safe. However, just a few months after one Pittsburgh hospital was involved in a hepatitis C outbreak, a patient has died after contracting Legionnaires' disease at the Pittsburgh VA hospital in Oakland.

What's more, two Legionnaires' experts who used to work at the hospital say that the outbreak could have been avoided.

So far it's been confirmed that five patients contracted the disease through the hospital's water system. According to Dr. Victor Yu and Dr. Janet Stout, the hospital knew that there was a problem with the water treatment system, called a copper-silver ionization system, beginning in June. They say that in July a consultant told the VA hospital it needed to immediately adjust the levels of copper and silver in its water. These are the two metals that kill Legionella, the bacterium that causes Legionnaires' disease. According to sources, the hospital didn't act on that advice until October, about the time officials learned there was a Legionnaires' outbreak.

The Pittsburgh VA hospital admitted that the system may not have been "as effective as previously thought."

My thoughts go out to the families affected by this outbreak. It's sad and frustrating to learn about tragedies like this one that are, according to experts, avoidable. I hope that investigators are able to get to the bottom of what happened soon and that all necessary steps are taken to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"A disservice to veterans: The VA needs to be candid about Legionnaires' disease." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. December 3, 2012.
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