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August 24, 2009 - Lawsuits Accuse VA of Negligence

A Florida man is one of at least 50 people suing the Department of Veteran Affairs with allegations of negligent use of medical equipment, authorities said.

Juan Rivera, 55, was diagnosed with HIV after having a routine colonoscopy at the veterans hospital in Miami in May 2008, his lawyer, said.

Rivera, an Army veteran, learned after the colonoscopy the hospital had not properly sterilized the equipment used for the procedure, his lawyer said.

"He's angry, stunned and distraught that the government he served so well for so long has done this to him," said his lawyer.

Rivera and others are suing the VA under the Federal Torts Claim Act, The Washington Post reported Monday. The VA, on its Web site, said no link has been established between the patients' conditions and the endoscopy procedures.

In April, a VA inspection of 42 of its medical facilities found just 43 percent were in compliance with equipment sterilization standards, the Post reported.

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