Los Angeles VA hospital delays more than 80 surgeries due to insect infestation

The Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles Medical Center closed operating rooms for a total of 22 days between November 2016 and February 2018 due to an ongoing insect infestation, delaying 83 surgeries, according to an investigation by CBS Los Angeles.

The CBS investigation revealed the hospital installed at least 200 fly traps to fight off an infestation of phorid flies in operating rooms. The infestation traces back to 2016, according to emails and memos obtained by CBS.  

Phorid flies are drawn to open wounds, where they seek to lay eggs, and are also known for carrying and transmitting dirt and bacteria, entomologists told CBS.

"The fact that VA has waited for more than two years to properly address this, I think underscores leadership failure at the highest levels," Eric Hannel, PhD, former investigator for the House Veterans Affairs Committee, told CBS.  

The VA reported all the hospital's operating rooms are currently open and the infestation does not present a risk to patients, according to a statement sent to CBS. "We found zero evidence of patient harm" but closed the operating rooms "out of an abundance of caution. Currently all operation rooms are open," the statement reads.

VA officials are working closely with national subject matter experts to prevent future infestations.

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