VA Health Care:

Tuberculosis Controls Receiving Greater Emphasis at VA Medical Centers

HRD-94-5: Published: Nov 9, 1993. Publicly Released: Dec 10, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on an outbreak of tuberculosis at the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) Medical Center in East Orange, New Jersey, focusing on: (1) the reasons for the outbreak; (2) VA management initiatives to strengthen tuberculosis controls at its medical centers; and (3) whether non-VA hospitals are experiencing similar tuberculosis outbreaks.

GAO found that: (1) the outbreak of tuberculosis at the East Orange VA Medical Center was a result of inadequate health management practices; (2) the medical center has developed a comprehensive corrective action plan that will enable it to increase tuberculosis awareness and make major improvements in identifying, isolating, and treating tuberculosis cases within its facility; (3) some of the 158 VA medical centers have workloads that are equal to or exceed that of the East Orange Center; (4) VA management initiatives include developing new infection-control policies and procedures, developing implementation plans, and improving oversight of centers' tuberculosis-control programs; (5) many non-VA and urban hospitals have recently experienced a resurgence of tuberculosis cases due to the transmission of the disease to patients and employees; and (6) non-VA and urban hospitals have implemented corrective actions in response to inadequate infection-control practices.

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