Feds investigate Miami VA for giving veterans inaccurate HIV results

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The Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center gave at least eight military veterans who were tested for HIV at the facility different results than tests from an outside lab, according to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.

The discrepancy in the results was only revealed after one of the Miami facility's employees, Roman Miguel, a lab director, complained to outside agencies that managers chose to ignore his concerns, according to an independent federal investigator.

Following a four-day visit to the Miami VAMC in October 2016, the Department of Veterans Affairs said it was unable to verify the complaints after investigating the employee's claims, according to the Miami Herald.

On Feb. 28, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel said the VA's findings "do not appear reasonable" and expressed "incredulity" that the Miami VA facility only complied with the new HIV testing policy after the employee complained to outside agencies.

In a Feb. 28 letter to President Trump, Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner said VA investigators could not verify the claims because they loosely interpreted the deadline for the Miami VAMC to comply with the new policy for HIV testing. The nationwide VA policy, Directive 1113, required VA facilities to implement fourth-generation HIV testing within one year of its publication.

"I am incredulous that compliance with Directive 1113 and implementation of fourth generation HIV testing occurred only after Mr. Miguel's disclosures and OSC's intercession," Mr. Kerner wrote in the letter. "Although the HIV testing issues affected a small percentage of those tested at the Miami VAMC and OSC has not been made aware of similar problems at other VA facilities, I strongly encourage the VA to take immediate action to ensure that every facility throughout the VA-network is in compliance with Directive 1113."

It is not clear how many HIV tests from the Miami VAMC were sent to an outside lab.

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