IG report finds Pittsburgh VA didn't follow Legionnaires' rules, chairman calling for disciplinary action



PITTSBURGH - The chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee is calling for discipline at the Pittsburgh VA Healthcare System on the heels of a report saying they didn't follow their own rules to combat the waterborne bacteria that cause Legionnaires' disease.

The inspector general's office at the Department of Veterans Affairs conducted the report that found several guidelines developed after an outbreak in 1982 were not carried out. The hospitals didn't maintain a copper silver ionization system used to track the bacteria, didn't routinely flush hot water faucets and didn't properly test patients who developed pneumonia to see if it was caused by Legionella bacteria.

Tuesday's report, first reported by Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE, was prompted by 21 veterans sickened by the bacteria at VA hospitals in Oakland and O'Hara Township since February 2011. Five died.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, who has pushed for reforms, said the report is a "critical step" in preventing future problems.

Last month, two families announced that they plan to sue the VA. Another lawsuit was announced in December by the family of William Nicklas, 87, who died last fall.