Posted by Curt on 7 August, 2013 at 10:58 pm. 64 comments already!


Liz Klimas:

  • An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in 2011-2012 within Pittsburgh’s health care system for veterans has killed six and sickened 16. 
  • Lawmakers began requesting documents related to the outbreak in January and have called out the VA for a “lack of responsiveness.”
  • One family is suing the VA for negligence and others are looking for answers as to why the water system wasn’t being maintained in a way to prevent such an outbreak. 
  • In the midst of the scandal involving the bacterial outbreak, management was given a positive review in evaluations. 
  • “These revelations paint a troubling picture of rampant mismanagement and incompetence among some officials within the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare system.” — Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Jeff Miller (R-Fla.)

Legionnaires disease

A veterans hospital in Pittsburgh has been under scrutiny for more than half the year in a case of disease, cover up and what some are calling mismanagement. Now, a family has had enough and is suing for wrongful death, negligence and more.

It all stems from a report of a bacterial outbreak in 2011 and 2012 at the Pittsburgh VA, which the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette most recently reported has killed six and sickened 16 to date.

The Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review have produced extensive reporting on the issue since it was called out by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs in January 2013. The committee sent a letter in April citing a “lack of responsiveness” by the VA to provide all documents and emails since 2007 discussing the presence of legionella bacteria within the VA’s Pittsburgh health facilities.

First, here’s a bit of background on the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that started to concern many about the care veterans were receiving at the time. According to an Inspector General report reviewing Legionnaires’ disease in the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System at the request of lawmakers, once veterans began testing positive for the bacterial disease, the CDC was able to identify nearly two dozen cases of it between 2011 and 2012, finding that VAPHS had “widespread colonization of Legionella” in its drinking water system.

Legionella is bacteria that can be inhaled through mist from water, which can lead to a type of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease.


According to the IG report, although VAPHS instituted additional measures to act against the Legionella outbreak, there were several other items that allowed unsafe conditions to persist:

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