Insiders raise concerns over the level of care at the Dallas VA khou.com Houston

khou.com Houston.

 More about this and other medical malpractice at the VA on VAmalpractice.info

Former doctors from the Dallas VA express concern over the qualtity of care that vereans recieve at the Dallas VA

DALLAS — A former high-ranking doctor at the VA Hospital in Dallas is joining the parade of critics claiming area veterans are getting substandard care.

The hospital’s former Chief of Medicine recently testified about financial mismanagement, staffing problems and unacceptable emergency room wait times.

Jim Johansen of Arlington — a Vietnam veteran, helicopter door-gunner, Army MP for more than 30 years — has lived through a lot. And at the age of 60 he doesn’t think he should still be fighting battles — especially with administrators at the VA hospital in Dallas.

“My complaint was not only for me, but for every veteran who walks through that door and is subjected to the kind of treatment that they are subjected to,” Johansen said.

In a series of complaints to hospital administrators dating back to 2011, Johansen documents long wait times, “unanswered communications,” and a constant “turnover of doctors” making him and other veterans feel like “guinea pigs.”

“The veterans at that facility deserve better,” Johansen said. “Veterans throughout the VA Health Care System overall deserve better.”

Johansen is not the only one upset at the way some veterans are being treated. Former Dallas VA emergency room nurse Ramona Spencer is also familiar with complaints against her old employer.

“What bothers me the most is that they are [treated like] second-class citizens,” she said.

Spencer filed a complaint alleging discrimination and retaliation against her for speaking out about working conditions at the hospital. She blames hospital administrators for creating an unhealthy environment for patients and staff.

“I saw management ignoring all of these things, and the more they ignored, the more I and a couple of other nurses spoke out… at which time we became part of their little hit list,” Spencer said.

Two months ago, as a part of her legal complaint, Spencer’s attorney deposed the former Chief of Medicine at the Dallas VA. Daniel Goodenberger testified to the “understaffing of nursing units” and “inadequate funding for physician and nursing staffing as a result of financial mismanagement in the past.”

But Goodenberger also blames the “most toxic union environment he’s ever seen.” He added that a recently-resolved $25 million deficit at the hospital was also to blame.

VA officials responded to the allegations in writing, dismissing most of the allegations.

“We have reviewed the statements attributed to Dr. Goodenberger and found them without merit,” said VA Hospital spokesman Froylan Garza. “The VA North Texas leadership teams… have made great improvements in timeliness/access, staffing and customer service over the past year. ER wait times have decreased over the past year and customer service scores for December indicate 94 percent of veterans surveyed rated their overall experience in the Emergency Department either Excellent, Very Good or Good.”

Delayed care has one Augusta VA patient fearing for his life | Mobile Augusta

Delayed care has one Augusta VA patient fearing for his life | Mobile Augusta.

Michael Newton had an appointment at the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center last week to have as many as 12 small tumors removed from his bladder. But instead, the cancer patient canceled and will now travel across four states and more than 1,000 miles to get the treatment he said he should have received six months ago at the Augusta hospital.

“I have lost all faith in that hospital,” Newton, 62, said last week at his Grovetown home.

After reviewing the Air Force veteran’s medical records, the National Institute of Health offered to resect the dozen tumors that had formed in Newton’s bladder since June 13, when surgeons at the Augusta VA promised him all such cells had been removed from his system in their “entirety,” according to medical records.

Also offered by the Maryland research institute, and accepted by Newton, was mitomycin, a type of chemotherapy for upper gastrointestinal cancers that Newton said he was denied this summer at the Augusta VA despite lab results showing the tumor originally removed from his bladder was “high-grade.”

“When they saw that the tumor was high-grade, they should have brought me back and given me mitomycin, but they didn’t,” said Newton, who is a 100 percent disabled veteran. “Instead, they told me the tumor was benign and that no chemotherapy was needed. They were basically putting me on a schedule to die.”

Hundreds, possibly even thousands of veterans, including Newton, are becoming more and more fearful that the Augusta VA is shaving years off their lives.

Three cancer patients died and four veterans were injured between 2011 and November 2012 after hospital administration failed to schedule 5,100 primary-care referrals made to the medical center’s gastrointestinal program.

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs is investigating the management error in hopes of holding accountable those who are responsible.

The committee has targeted the administration of former Director Rebecca Wiley, which managed the hospital from 2007 to 2011 – the year Newton’s problems began to escalate.

Newton joined the Air Force in 1972. Almost a year after he enlisted, a biopsy performed by Navy Medical staff found he had rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which damaged skeletal muscle tissue breaks down and is released into the bloodstream, possibly resulting in kidney failure.

“Because of the uncertainty of his illness, Mr. Newton’s life has been disrupted and he needs some measure of emotional support,” Dr. Stanley Bodner wrote in a letter to Newton’s commanders on Jan. 23, 1973.

Newton left the Air Force in 1979, but his health condition persisted for more than 30 years, peaking in June 2011, when he suffered a major episode.

“I thought I had the flu, but then my vision became black, my urine turned the color of Coca-Cola and I started passing lesions,” he said.

Newton said he stayed in the Augusta VA in kidney failure for two days until a nurse intervened and started to give him dialysis. A week later, the hospital released Newton for three months of outpatient dialysis and said a notice would be sent in the mail for a follow-up appointment in two weeks, discharge summaries show.

But Newton said he never got the notice and that the hospital stopped dialysis by the end of 2011. His wife, Romaine, said her husband’s urine flow returned, but that his kidney output was below normal and as a result, he put on 30 pounds.

“He kept saying ‘I’m not feeling well,’ and we visited several different programs in the VA’s nephrology and neurology programs until October 2012, when he began experiencing sharp pains in his right side and started seeing blood in his urine,” she said.
“I bent over in my room and felt like someone had stabbed me,” Michael Newton said, describing the pain.
A CT scan performed at the VA in January 2013 revealed his bladder was distended, but the Newtons said the VA did nothing about it.

“From then until April 2013, there has been a tremendous delay,” Romaine Newton said.

In May, the VA scheduled a cystoscopy and found a tumor in his bladder.

“The bladder was surveyed in systemic fashion and a papillary tumor was noted on the right wall with a clot attached,” progress notes filed May 29-30 at the hospital stated. “Within the pelvis, the bladder is partially distended.”

Newton had surgery June 12 to remove the tumor and surgical information on file states that staff was “able to access the right lateral bladder wall tumor, which was resected in its entirety.”

Medical records state that the plan was for Newton to have a “surveillance cystoscopy every three months.”

In September, Newton’s right side still hurt. He went into the VA for a cystoscopy, but no adverse conditions were reported.

On Nov. 5, Newton saw a private physician in Columbia County to get a second opinion on why his side continued to hurt.

According to diagnostic report from the Center for Primary Care in Evans, an ultrasound found a 2-centimeter cyst and several small stones scattered throughout his left kidney. Newton was prescribed allopurinol, a drug used primarily to treat excess uric acid in blood plasma.

The veteran said he took the prescription to the VA to get it filled on Dec. 10, when a cystoscopy confirmed multiple small tumors – possibly as many 12 – had formed in his bladder, according to progress notes filed by the medical center nine days after the appointment.

Newton, however, said he was told he could not get the medication unless he had gout. Four days later he returned to the VA with a swollen right foot. An assessment by the hospital found he had an “acute gouty attack,” according to progress notes filed Dec. 19. The hospital scheduled another resection for the tumors.

“I felt like my life was in danger,” Newton said of canceling the appointment. “The VA ignored everything the doctor in Columbia County wanted to do. If the tumor had gotten to the muscular layer, I would have had three years – plus or minus one year – of my life left. I didn’t like my odds.”

Hospital spokesman Pete Scovill said it is not uncommon for patients to seek treatment from both public and private facilities, but said it is rare for VA staff not to explore every treatment plan possible. He urged any veteran who wishes to appeal their case to call his office at (706) 733-0188.

“If they come to us and give us a chance to review their case, we will do our best to resolve any issues they may have,” he said.

The Newtons said they are unsure if they plan to sue the hospital. However, Romaine Newton said all this could have been avoided.

“If Michael presented them with a symptom, the VA would order a MRI or an ultrasound, but the underlying cause of the problem, they would not try to determine what it was,” she said. “That is the way they work.”

Veterans Got Medical Care From Product Salesman at U.S. Hospital – Businessweek

Veterans Got Medical Care From Product Salesman at U.S. Hospital – Businessweek.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has allowed product vendors to participate in medical procedures for veterans in at least one hospital system, a federal auditor told lawmakers today.

As recently as August, a vendor helped apply skin grafts to patients at a VA hospital, Randall Williamson, a Government Accountability Office director, said during a House Veterans Affairs subcommittee hearing in Washington. He didn’t identify the company that employed the salesperson or say where the hospital was located.

Lawmakers are investigating the department’s purchases of surgical implants, such as cardiac pacemakers or human bone and skin. Federal auditors and congressional investigators have raised concerns about department oversight of its spending on implants and the role of medical company representatives in VA operating rooms.

“It’s frankly shocking to me that this happened,” said Representative Dan Benishek, a Michigan Republican who is a physician. “This would not fulfill the accreditation needs of any hospital that I know.”

The VA requires patients to sign consent forms that allow vendor representatives to provide technical advice to clinicians, said Roscoe Butler, an assistant director for health care at the Indianapolis-based American Legion, the veterans’ service organization. The forms state that vendors can’t physically participate in care.

Dayton VA Psychologist charged with exposing himself to shoppers | www.daytondailynews.com

Psychologist charged with exposing himself to shoppers | www.daytondailynews.com.

Dayton VA Psychiologist arrested for exposing himself to the publicmore about this and other malpractice ath the VA at VAmalpractice.info  va malpractice, veterans affairs medical malpractice and veterans administration medical malpractice attorneys and lawyers. Web site for information on va malpractice claims and va medical malpractice claims as well as veterans administration patient safety issues. Information on medical malpractice at the VA, Veterans Affairs medical errors, legal representation for veterans medical errors, www.VAmalpractice.info

CENTERVILLE —

A local psychologist at the Dayton VA Medical Center resigned from a position with the Ohio Psychological Association after being accused of indecent exposure in Centerville.

Dayton VA Psychologist arrested for exposing himself Dr. Joshua W. Shuman,

 34, of Centerville is set for a pretrial on Feb. 6 in Kettering Municipal Court on two indecent exposure charges stemming from incidents in March and December in Centerville, according to court records and police reports.

Police said Shuman would expose himself to shoppers at Cross Pointe Shopping Center who he convinced to walk with him to his car.

“It’s scary, scary to think that there are people out here doing these types of things,” said Officer John Davis of the Centerville Police Department.

Officials at the VA hospital said Shuman remained on the hospital staff, but had been moved to an area of the hospital where he would not be in contact with patients.

“When we were alerted of the charges by local authorities, he was immediately removed from patient care. Veterans with concerns about receiving the appropriate treatment can be evaluated by a different provider for a second opinion,” according to a statement by Kimberly D. Frisco, a spokeswoman at the VA.

Shuman could not be reached and his lawyer, Mark Babb, declined to comment until after the pretrial.

Shuman “stepped down from the state psychological association board on Jan. 2 for personal reasons,” according to Heather Gilbert, director of communications and marketing for the association, based in Columbus.

According to police reports, Shuman was accused of indecent exposure, a misdemeanor, on March 6 by a Dayton woman at the Marshalls department store on East Alex-Bell Road. Shuman was also accused by a Kettering woman on Dec. 13 in the parking lot of a strip center on Alex-Bell Road near the Marshalls store.

On Jan. 14, Shuman pleaded not guilty in Kettering municipal court.

According to a biography on the state association web site, Shuman has also worked at Wright State University and the Upper Valley Medical Center in Troy. At the VA, he is a staff psychologist and coordinator of the facility’s training program.

Shuman was described as a member of the state psychological association board Wednesday, but he is identified as a non-voting member of the association’s ethics committee in the website biography.

Maine VA hospital worker convicted of taking drugs – SFGate

Maine VA hospital worker convicted of taking drugs – SFGate.

BANGOR, Maine (AP) — A former pharmacy technician at an Augusta veterans’ hospital has been sentenced to two years of probation for stealing medication while on the job.

Rebecca Hamlin of Winslow was also sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Bangor to pay a $4,000 fine.

Authorities say the 61-year-old was working at VA Maine Healthcare Systems-Togus last January when a co-worker spotted her putting an empty pharmacy bottle in her purse.

A subsequent search found additional medication in a tote bag at Hamlin’s work station.

The medication included acetaminophen, simvastatin, phrenilin, naproxen and a hydrocodone tablet.

Her lawyer says he Hamlin had no prior criminal record.

Watertown Daily Times | Massena woman files $2 million wrongful-death suit against VA hospital

Watertown Daily Times | Massena woman files $2 million wrongful-death suit against VA hospital.

MASSENA — A Massena woman has filed a $2 million wrongful-death lawsuit against the federal government in connection with her husband’s death at a veterans hospital in 2011.

Sandra Canfield, as administrator of the estate of her husband, Frank L. Canfield, filed action Wednesday in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, against the United States of America, as operators of the Buffalo Veteran Affairs Medical Center.

According to the suit, Mr. Canfield was a patient at the hospital July 19, 2011, undergoing open heart surgery. It is alleged that a coronary bypass machine was “connected incorrectly,” specifically “in reverse,” causing Mr. Canfield to suffer a right ventricle tear, resulting in his death.

The suit claims, among other things, that the death was a direct cause of hospital employees’ carelessness and negligence and that employees failed to follow proper procedures or protocols regarding the performance of a coronary bypass. It further is claimed that employees failed to properly and adequately follow up on Mr. Canfield’s care so as to timely recognize and respond to damage allegedly caused by the care.

The action maintains that Mr. Canfield did not give his informed consent with respect to the course of care and treatment provided to him and that, had he been informed, he would not have agreed to the treatment provided.

U.S. Vets Exposed to Cadaver Parts From Contaminated Lab – Bloomberg

U.S. Vets Exposed to Cadaver Parts From Contaminated Lab – Bloomberg.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairsordered $241 million of cadaver tissueand other material derived from human and animal bodies in the last three years, some of it from vendors warned by federal regulators about contamination in their supply chain.

About $4.7 million of the VA purchases came from Alachua, Florida-based RTI Surgical Inc. (RTIX) and the nonprofit Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation, of Edison, New Jersey, according to data obtained by Bloomberg News under a Freedom of Information Act request.

The VA ordered human tissue from the two suppliers after they were warned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for safety deficiencies — RTI for contaminated products and processing facilities, and Musculoskeletal Transplant for distributing tissue from tainted donor bodies, according to federal contracting data compiled by Bloomberg.

The suppliers said they have addressed the problems, which weren’t tied to human harms.

The disclosures come as Congress and veterans’ advocates are pressing the VA about whether it tracks body parts and other implants used to treat veterans well enough to warn patients of potential dangers. In September 2012, the VA shelved a system it was building to help alert patients when the parts are recalled. Some of the VA’s buying was made outside standardized purchasing contracts without required justifications, the Government Accountability Office said earlier this month.

Awaiting Disaster

“It’s a big accident waiting to happen,” said Rick Weidman, executive director for government affairs with the Silver Spring, Maryland-based Vietnam Veterans of America.

RTI received a warning letter from the FDA in October 2012, and Musculoskeletal Transplant received one six months later, following agency inspections.

The congressional scrutiny of the VA’s medical purchasing follows a surge in patients treated in its hospitals, where grafts from cadavers are used to replace burned skin, restore broken bones, or treat other wounds.

The VA has added more than 2 million veterans to its health-care system since 2009. The number receiving biological implants rose 22 percent to 19,350 in the two years ended in September 2013, according to the agency.

Tracking System

A year earlier, the department suspended a computer project known as the Veterans Implant Tracking and Alert System — which “was developed to address shortcomings” in its ability to track surgical implants, including biologically derived ones, and help find their recipients during recalls, according to a Jan. 13 report from the GAO, Congress’s investigative arm.

The project’s future is being evaluated, the VA said in a statement. The agency’s safety office tracks recalls for biological products and notifies its hospitals when necessary, Thomas Lynch, the VA’s assistant deputy undersecretary for health clinical operations, said in a congressional hearing last week. The VA said its safety office hasn’t received any reports from its hospitals about contaminated implants.

Reports of tainted tissue in the industry are especially troubling because oversight of the suppliers isn’t strong, said Chris Truitt, a former tissue procurement technician who left the industry in 2005. One body can provide tissue for as many as 100 patients, according to the FDA.

Knee Bone

A Minnesota man died in 2001 after a knee surgery in which he was given contaminated cadaver bone, according to written testimony his parents gave the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs in 2003.

In another case, a cadaver was the probable source of hepatitis C infection in at least eight people who had received organs or tissue from the donor, an official with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in written remarks to the same committee.

“There is no way to track tissue,” Truitt, who wrote a book called “The Dark Side of Tissue Donation,” said in a phone interview. “So a recall may not reach everyone it needs to reach. There may be best practices, things that most people are doing, but if you don’t have 100 percent participation, it’s really no good.”

RTI and Musculoskeletal Transplant, which received the warnings from the FDA, are among hundreds of vendors providing biological products to the department, according to the VA data reviewed byBloomberg News, which details spending commitments made from October 1, 2010 through September 30, 2013.

Veterans exposed to cadaver parts from contaminated lab

Veterans exposed to cadaver parts from contaminated lab.

 

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs ordered $241 million of cadaver tissue and other material derived from human and animal bodies in the last three years, some of it from vendors warned by federal regulators about contamination in their supply chain.

About $4.7 million of the VA purchases came from Alachua, Fla.-based RTI Surgical Inc. and the nonprofit Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation, of Edison, N.J., according to data obtained by Bloomberg News under a Freedom of Information Act request.

The VA ordered human tissue from the two suppliers after they were warned by the FDA for safety deficiencies — RTI for contaminated products and processing facilities, and Musculoskeletal Transplant for distributing tissue from tainted donor bodies, according to federal contracting data compiled by Bloomberg.

The suppliers said they have addressed the problems, which weren’t tied to human harms.

The disclosures come as Congress and veterans’ advocates are pressing the VA about whether it tracks body parts and other implants used to treat veterans well enough to warn patients of potential dangers. In September 2012, the VA shelved a system it was building to help alert patients when the parts are recalled. Some of the VA’s buying was made outside standardized purchasing contracts without required justifications, the Government Accountability Office said earlier this month.

“It’s a big accident waiting to happen,” said Rick Weidman, executive director for government affairs with the Silver Spring, Md.-based Vietnam Veterans of America.

RTI received a warning letter from the FDA in October 2012, and Musculoskeletal Transplant received one six months later, following agency inspections.

The congressional scrutiny of the VA’s medical purchasing follows a surge in patients treated in its hospitals, where grafts from cadavers are used to replace burned skin, restore broken bones, or treat other wounds.

The VA has added more than 2 million veterans to its health-care system since 2009. The number receiving biological implants rose 22 percent to 19,350 in the two years ended in September 2013, according to the agency.

A year earlier, the department suspended a computer project known as the Veterans Implant Tracking and Alert System, which “was developed to address shortcomings” in tracking surgical implants, including biologically derived ones, and help find their recipients during recalls, according to a Jan. 13 report from the GAO, Congress’s investigative arm.

The project’s future is being evaluated, the VA said in a statement. The agency’s safety office tracks recalls for biological products and notifies its hospitals when necessary, Thomas Lynch, the VA’s assistant deputy undersecretary for health clinical operations, said in a Congressional hearing last week. The VA said its safety office hasn’t received any reports from its hospitals about contaminated implants.

Reports of tainted tissue in the industry are especially troubling because oversight of the suppliers isn’t strong, said Chris Truitt, a former tissue procurement technician who left the industry in 2005. One body can provide tissue for as many as 100 patients, according to the FDA.

A Minnesota man died in 2001 after a knee surgery in which he was given contaminated cadaver bone, according to written testimony his parents gave the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs in 2003.

In another case, a cadaver was the probable source of hepatitis C infection in at least eight people who had received organs or tissue from the donor, an official with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in written remarks to the same committee.

“There is no way to track tissue,” Truitt, who wrote a book called “The Dark Side of Tissue Donation,” said in a phone interview. “So a recall may not reach everyone it needs to reach. There may be best practices, things that most people are doing, but if you don’t have 100 percent participation, it’s really no good.”

RTI and Musculoskeletal Transplant, which received the warnings from the FDA, are among hundreds of vendors providing biological products to the department, according to the VA data reviewed by Bloomberg News, which details spending commitments made from Oct. 1, 2010, through Sept. 30, 2013.

Drew Brookie, the VA’s press secretary, declined to say whether the department altered its spending with RTI and Musculoskeletal Transplant after the suppliers received FDA warnings. Such warnings aren’t designed to cause hospital systems to cut off suppliers, the VA said in a statement.

The department “is committed to providing the high quality, safe, effective and timely health care veterans have earned and deserve,” Brookie said in an e-mail. “VA has established a record of safe, exceptional health care that is consistently validated by independent reviews and organizations.”

Some of the VA orders were made outside agreements known as federal-supply schedule contracts, according to the House veterans committee and a report from the GAO last week.

The department officials didn’t file waivers or clinical justifications about why existing biologics contracts weren’t used, in violation of VA requirements, the GAO said.

If officials don’t use such contracts, purchases may cost taxpayers more and not include assurances about the country of origin for the tissue, said Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., the House veterans committee chairman.

“Veterans and the government are at an increased risk for problems associated with product efficacy and quality” when the buying takes place outside contracts that follow purchasing regulations, Miller said in an e-mail.

Academy Medical, a supplier that has contracts with the Veterans Administration, finds it “inexplicable that so many vendors are able to participate in the VA market in violation of the procurement rules and sell their products through unauthorized means at prices that they set rather than prices set through competition,” said Daniel Shaw, managing partner of the West Palm Beach, Fla.-based company.

The data obtained by Bloomberg shows a wide range of costs and diversity in the VA buying: $3,555 for eye tissue from Johnson & Johnson, more than $27,000 on leg bones from Medtronic and $282 on “demineralized” rib bone from Zimmer Holdings. No issues have been raised with these purchases.

Grisly stories, such as a man sentenced in 2008 for running a now-defunct company that conspired to steal tissue from more than 1,000 corpses, have intensified calls for increased industry oversight.

In 2006, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., proposed legislation requiring the FDA to conduct annual, surprise inspections of tissue banks in the wake of the investigation into Biomedical Tissue Services, the defunct company linked to the stolen-tissue crimes. The measure failed.

“People who sell you homes are regulated. People who sell you food are regulated,” Michel Anteby, an associate professor at Harvard Business School who has studied the supply channels, said in a phone interview. “Yet the people who operate in this tissue donation world collected from human cadavers are almost completely unregulated.”

Ukrainian authorities investigated allegations that some morgues were supplying body parts obtained through forged documents or pressuring relatives of the deceased to sign consent paperwork, according to a July 2012 report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

RTI, mentioned as an importer from the country in the report, said in a statement that it decided that year “to voluntarily cease receipt of tissue from the Ukraine due to sensitivities and political disruptions” affecting suppliers there. The decision “did not impact tissue safety in any way,” RTI said.

Firms should take FDA warning letters like those sent to RTI and Musculoskeletal “very seriously,” said Steven Niedelman, a former FDA deputy associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, who worked for the agency for 34 years.

“They are basically the free pass before the agency considers injunction, seizure or some other action through the Department of Justice,” said Niedelman, a health-law compliance consultant at the law firm of King & Spalding in Washington.

“It is not common for a tissue establishment to be sent a warning letter by FDA,” said Sarah Gray, director of public affairs for the American Association of Tissue Banks, a non- profit group based in McLean, Va., that provides accreditation to tissue banks.

Bacteria, including one strain that can infect humans, were found on 70 separate occasions in RTI’s finished sports-medicine goods, the FDA said in an October 2012 letter. The products were made from human tissue and weren’t distributed, Jenny Highlander, an RTI spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

The VA continued to purchase from RTI after the FDA warning letter, according to online federal contracting data. The post- warning orders included a $3,375 Achilles-tendon order in April 2013 and a $3,355 skin-graft order in September 2013, according to the data.

The agency’s letter told RTI that it found fungus in tissue-processing and packaging areas and bacteria in its water systems. RTI failed to recognize environmental-monitoring data “indicative of contamination throughout your facility,” the VA said.

Some RTI relationships with customers suffered as a result of the warning, Brian Hutchison, the company’s chief executive officer, said in an August 2013 call with analysts.

“There are certain accounts only in certain pockets of the country where we are blocked based on that letter,” Hutchison said. “So we just have to put those customers aside for now and go focus where we can and grow business where we can and go back and address them once we have the clearance letter that we need or that they say we need.”

The VA ordered $260,679 in human tissue and other surgical implants from RTI during the fiscal year ended September 30, 2013, and almost $1 million from the company in the three years to that date, according to the data obtained by Bloomberg.

FDA investigators conducted a re-inspection in September, after RTI took corrective action, Wendy Crites Wacker, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an e-mail. The FDA told the company in an October 2013 letter that “it appears that you have addressed the violation(s).” Some customers came back to RTI after the re-inspection and the company was confident it would “gain back our market share,” Hutchison said that month.

The veterans department also ordered more than $3.7 million in biologics over the three years from Musculoskeletal Transplant, according to the data obtained by Bloomberg.

The supplier was cited by the FDA in an April 2013 warning letter for distributing tissues that came from donors whose bones tested positive for bacteria that can cause pneumonia, food poisoning or other illness. VA orders from the supplier made after the letter included $11,827 for “graft” products and $12,704 for “acellular human dermis,” or skin, in September 2013, online federal data show.

The tissues referenced in the warning letter came from parts of the tainted donors’ bodies that weren’t contaminated and didn’t contain the bacteria, said Gordon, of Issues Management/Insight Communication in Princeton, N.J., who is designated to speak for Musculoskeletal Transplant.

The body parts were processed and distributed, which “was against our protocols,” Gordon said in an e-mail. The company voluntarily recalled the products, she said.

Musculoskeletal Transplant has “taken steps to fully address all of the observations noted in the inspection and in the warning letter,” she said. It is waiting for the agency to conduct a re-inspection

‘Cannibal Cop’ cohort convicted in plot to kidnap women, will get up to 10 years in prison – NY Daily News

VA Police Chief Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Conspiracy. THings like this really make you wonder who’s watching what’s going on at the VA!

‘Cannibal Cop’ cohort convicted in plot to kidnap women, will get up to 10 years in prison

Chief of the Police department at the Bedford VA Medical Center Police Department pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

The ‘Cannibal Cop’ case has added a second conviction.

Richard Meltz, a former Massachusetts hospital police chief charged with planning to kidnap, torture and kill women in a twisted plot revealed through the investigation of NYPD cannibal cop Gilberto Valle, copped to kidnapping conspiracy Thursday.

 

Meltz, 65, will receive no more than 10 years in prison under the terms of his plea deal. His sentencing is May 22.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/cannibal-cohort-convicted-kidnap-plot-article-1.1582436#ixzz2rHuah77k

via ‘Cannibal Cop’ cohort convicted in plot to kidnap women, will get up to 10 years in prison – NY Daily News.

 

Former Veterans Administration police chief pleads guilty in plot to kidnap, rape and murder women and children – Metro – The Boston Globe

Former Veterans Administration police chief pleads guilty in plot to kidnap, rape and murder women and children – Metro –

A former police chief at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Bedford pleaded guilty on Thursday to federal conspiracy charges for his role in two separate plots to kidnap, rape, and murder women and children, authorities said.

Richard Meltz, 65, who has listed addresses in Nashua, N.H. and New Jersey, entered his plea in federal court in Manhattan and faces up to 10 years in prison at his sentencing on May 22, said US Attorney Preet Bharara’s office.

“Richard Meltz, a former law enforcement officer, now stands convicted of serious federal crimes for his involvement in two sadistic kidnapping, rape, and murder conspiracies,” Bharara said in a statement. “Prosecuting and bringing to justice perpetrators of such depraved and violent crimes is at the core of this office’s mission.”

According to prosecutors, the conspiracies spanned the spring of 2011 to April 2013. Bharara’s office said that Meltz was the police chief at the Bedford VA at the time, but his exact dates of service could not be determined late Thursday night.

Meltz’s lawyer, Peter Brill, said in an e-mail that his client has “taken responsibility for his limited role in the conspiracy he was charged with along with two other individuals.”

“He hopes that he will be remembered for all the good work he has done in his life, and not this sad episode, as well as to return to his wife and family in the not-too-distant future,” Brill wrote.

In the first plot, Meltz and two other men, Robert Christopher Asch and Michael Van Hise, exchanged e-mails and instant message chats discussing the kidnapping, torture, and murder of Van Hise’s wife and stepdaughter, as well as his sister-in-law and her children, according to court records and the statement.

The trio abandoned the plan after the arrest of Gilberto Valle, a former New York City police officer who wanted to practice cannibalism on his kidnap victims, according to prosecutors.

In the second plot, Meltz and Asch began preparing with an undercover FBI agent to kidnap another FBI agent, who was also working undercover, Bharara’s office said. Asch allegedly bought a Taser at a Pennsylvania gun show for the planned kidnapping at Meltz’s direction, prosecutors said.

Asch, 61, of New York, and Van Hise, a New Jersey man in his early 20s, have pleaded not guilty to related charges and are scheduled to stand trial early this year, prosecutors said.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.