Nearly 600 VA dental patients may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis
© Getty Images

Nearly 600 dental patients at a Wisconsin Veterans Affairs medical center may have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis B and C, CNN reported Friday.

ADVERTISEMENT

A dentist at the Tomah VA Medical Center violated VA rules by reusing old medical equipment instead of using sterilized, disposable instruments, according to officials.

"It was purposeful that he was violating VA regulations," Victoria Brahm, the acting director of the medical center, told reporters earlier this week.

"During all of the orientation, he used our equipment. He used it appropriately, so it was very purposeful from what we found in our investigation that he knew exactly what he was doing, and preferred to use his own equipment against procedure."

An assistant reportedly blew the whistle on the rules violations.

The VA is offering the 592 patients free blood testing to determine if they were infected with the viruses, and the results are expected to be returned in two to three weeks.

“The most important part is the actual risk of infection is low here — it is out of an abundance of caution that we are doing this," said Matthew Gowan, a spokesman for the Tomah center.

The dentist, who has not been identified, has been moved to an administrative position and is not treating patients.

"This news is not just heartbreaking; it's outrageous," House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis Ryan Retirees should say 'no thanks' to Romney's Social Security plan California Governor Newsom and family dress as 2020 Democrats for Halloween DC's liaison to rock 'n' roll MORE (R-Wis.) said in a statement. "How can our veterans be treated so carelessly and where is the accountability?"

"The individual in question has not even been fired — a truly stunning show of bureaucratic impunity. This demonstrates once and for all that the VA needs a complete overhaul, so that our veterans finally get the care — and the respect — they deserve."