A Coral Gables veteran who filed a $30 million medical malpractice lawsuit charging that an improper colonoscopy at the Miami Veterans’ Administration hospital gave him life-threatening hepatitis C heads to Miami federal court Monday in the first of what could be dozens of similar trials.
More than 11,000 U.S. veterans received colonoscopies with improperly cleaned equipment at VA hospitals in Miami, Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Augusta, Ga., between 2004 and 2009.Of the veterans who had the procedure at the three facilities, five have tested positive for HIV, 25 for hepatitis C and eight for hepatitis B. In Miami, 11 additional suits charging emotional distress have been settled out of court for undisclosed amounts, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. Nine malpractice suits have been filed in Tennessee. Officials in Georgia couldn’t say how many have been filed there. None has gone to trial until now.
Miami Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence Rosen, who’s defending the VA, declined to comment on the case. Court documents he filed in the case acknowledge the VA “breached” a “duty of reasonable care” with the vets by using improperly cleaned equipment, but deny the equipment caused the health problems.