A federal investigative agency Wednesday slammed the Miami VA Medical Center after an independent lab found that eight veterans tested for HIV had different results from those at the VA, according to news reports.
The differing results were discovered only after a VA employee complained to the White House and federal agencies that local managers were ignoring his concerns, the Miami Herald reports.
The Office of Special Counsel in Washington called the VA's findings "unreasonable" and expressed "incredulity" the Miami VA complied with new HIV testing policy only after an employee complained to outside agencies.
Special Counsel Henry Kerner told President Donald Trump in a letter that VA investigators could not substantiate the claims because they loosely interpreted the deadline for the Miami center to comply with the new HIV testing policy.
"I am incredulous that compliance with Directive 1113 [the new policy] and implementation of fourth-generation HIV testing occurred only after Mr. Miguel's disclosures and OSC's intercession," Kerner wrote to the president.
He was referring to Roman Miguel, a lab director, who had complained to the special counsel in May 2016, the Herald reports.
Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin visited the Miami VA Medical Center in March 2017 — and Kerner asked Wednesday that Shulkin ensure all VA medical centers are using the latest HIV testing procedures.
According to the Herald, the new HIV testing policy is known as Directive 1113.
It was implemented in May 2015 and involves general processes and programs for HIV testing with the VA's standard medical care.
Each VA medical facility must establish a written testing policy, each must follow requirements and procedures for obtaining oral consent for HIV testing.
Shane Suzuki, public affairs officer for the Miami VA Healthcare System, said administrators "strongly disagree" with the special counsel's allegations.
"We did not substantiate any of the allegations," Suzuki said in a statement.
"Rather, VA confirmed compliance with VA and [Centers for Disease Control] recommendations and did not validate a public health risk.
"A comprehensive review of patients revealed they were tested under the appropriate CDC-approved alternative HIV testing procedures pending the receipt and installation of new laboratory equipment."
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