Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) is asking the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Inspector General to begin an independent investigation of the Buffalo VA Medical Center. The request comes in response to recent revelations that the facility was reusing multi-dose insulin pens, intended for individual patient use, on multiple patients risking cross contamination and potential exposure to hepatitis and HIV.
In a letter to VA Inspector General Opfer, Higgins writes, “While the VA is attempting to contact those veterans that may have been exposed…there is much more work to be done. We must evaluate the root causes of this unthinkable error, identify who is responsible for this systematic failure, better understand if it is an isolated incident or representative of widespread problems and ensure it never happens again. I request that you perform an exhaustive assessment of the Buffalo VA Medical Facility to determine how this error was made, how it went unnoticed for over two years, and how it was not reported to patients for three months after it was discovered.”
On Monday Higgins wrote to the VA Secretary questioning how this medical error happened in the first place and the Department’s handling of the 716 patients impacted following the discovery. “Beyond the fact that the error occurred at all, most conserving was the length of time it took the VA to catch the error – over two years, as well as the three month delay in informing patients who may have been exposed,” wrote Higgins.
Higgins concluded his letter to Inspector General Opfer by saying, “The VA has a duty to ease the fears and health concerns of those who serve this nation, but this situation has done quite the opposite. The people of Western New York, especially our veterans, deserve much better from their government.”
Higgins represents New York’s 26th Congressional District, which includes portions of Erie and Niagara County including the Cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls.