Salt Lake VA hospital apologizes for ‘extremely unfortunate situation’
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Veterans Affairs Salt Lake City Health System issued an apology Monday and also an explanation for how a patient was given injections in a dirty exam room.
“This was not the kind of patient experience that we strive for,” said Dr. Karen Gribbin, chief of staff for the VA hospital. “We are doing everything in our power to make sure this never happens again.”
On the day in question, April 5, Gribbin explained that the exam room was used to treat diabetic ulcers, which consists of casts being placed on patients’ feet. Later in the day, staff placed a different patient, U.S. Army veteran Christopher Wilson, in the same room—for a different procedure—before it was cleaned.
“They just didn’t see the state of the room,” Gribbin explained. “This was an extremely unfortunate situation.”
Christopher Wilson, who was at the clinic to receive injections in his leg for an injury he received while deployed in Iraq, says he took photos of the room because he was surprised at the mess, and that the medical staff didn’t acknowledge the situation or move him elsewhere.
“I figured one of them would say, ‘Let’s go somewhere else’ or ‘Give us a minute to clean it,’” he told KSL.
His photographs show the exam room with an overflowing garbage can, medical supplies on the counter and a mixing bowl covered with plaster in the sink.
The photos went viral and made national headlines after Wilson’s father posted them on Twitter.
“At first, I was sad for my son being subjected to those conditions,” Stephen Wilson said, “and then it made me angry.”
He said he appreciates the apology from the VA, but still wants an independent investigation into the potential health risks.
“Diabetic ulcers are by nature open wounds,” Stephen Wilson said, adding that he believes his son’s safety was put in jeopardy “by allowing the injection to happen in that room, when there is that much of a chance of cross contamination.”
He said the dirty room points to larger issues within the VA Health System that need to be addressed.
“It was not something I want to see my son subjected to again or any other veteran,” Stephen Wilson said.
An internal investigation should be completed over the next few days, Gribbin said. It’s too early to say if any employees will be disciplined.
“We are working hard to restore any lost trust,” she said.
Gribbin described the situation as something she had never seen before, and said she doesn’t believe Wilson was exposed to bodily fluids by being in the unclean room.
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