Report: Fly infestation delays surgeries for dozens at Los Angeles VA clinic

Matt Saintsing
May 02, 2018 - 2:00 pm

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A Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in southern California was forced to shut down operating rooms for 22 days between 2016 and now because of a consistent insect infestation.  

A local CBS investigation found that the VA’s West Los Angeles Medical Center installed no less than 200 flytraps to stem the swarm of Phorid flies in surgery suites that has beleaguered the medical clinic since November of 2016.

Multiple operating rooms were forces to close, some for days at a time, delaying surgeries for veterans and stopping physicians looking to treat wounded veterans.  

Phorid flies are attracted to open wounds, according to entomologists, where they look to lay eggs. They can also transmit dirt, bacteria, and other unsavory morsels, causing increased health risks to the already wounded.

Some are saying the length of the infestation illustrates failures at the “highest levels” of the VA.

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

“We found zero evidence of patient harm,” but closed the surgery rooms “out of an abundance of caution,” a spokesperson for the VA told CBS.

“Currently all operations rooms are open.”

This report is the second in two days of a VA clinic in substandard conditions. In Salt Lake City, Utah, an Army veteran was put in a room with overflowing trash and medical equipment scattered around the area.