A Department of Veterans Affairs dentist may have infected 592 veterans with Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or HIV, but instead of getting fired, he was rewarded with an administrative position at the agency.
The unnamed dentist at a VA facility in Tomah, Wis., refused to use the disposable, sterile equipment required of VA providers and instead used his own dental tools on patients, cleaning them himself and reusing them on hundreds of veterans.
Victoria Brahm, acting medical director of the Tomah VA, said the dentist has been moved to an administrative job at the agency, according to WEAU in Tomah.
“It was purposeful that he was violating VA regulations,” Brahm said during a press conference Tuesday. “During all of the orientation, he used all of our equipment. He used it appropriately, so it was very purposeful from what we found in our investigation that he knew exactly what he was doing, and preferred to use his own equipment against procedure.”
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who represents a district in Wisconsin, slammed the VA on Thursday for allowing a taxpayer-funded official to expose so many veterans to deadly diseases.
“This news is not just heartbreaking; it’s outrageous,” Ryan said in a statement. “How can our veterans be treated so carelessly and where is the accountability?” The individual in question has not even been fired — a truly stunning show of bureaucratic impunity.”
Ryan said the incident was just the latest evidence that the VA will require a “complete overhaul.”
The Tomah VA hospital has come under fire in the past for dramatically over-prescribing opiates to veterans, a pattern that earned it the nickname “Candyland” among locals.
Nationwide, the VA has faced criticism for its failure to fire dozens of employees implicated in incompetent, abusive or even illegal activities at the VA.