Colonoscopies go to court

Colonoscopies aren’t the most pleasant procedures to begin with, but they can get a lot more unpleasant if you end up with a chronic illness as a result. U.S. Air Force Veteran Robert Metzler filed a $30 million medical malpractice lawsuit against the Miami Veterans’ Administration hospital, claiming a colonoscopy done with improperly cleaned equipment gave him hepatitis C. The case just went to trial in Miami, FL, this week.

Sadly, Metzler isn’t alone. Between 2004 and 2009 more than 11,000 colonoscopies were performed with improperly cleaned equipment. These procedures took place at three VA hospitals, the one in Miami, one in Murfreesboro, TN, and one in Augusta, GA. These colonoscopies resulted in 25 cases of hepatitis C, 8 cases of hepatitis B, and 5 cases of HIV infection. A number of lawsuits have been filed against the VA administration, but Metzler’s case is the first to go to trial.

The VA admits it used improperly cleaned equipment but denies the colonoscopies caused the illnesses. For more on this story, see this article.