Legion attends patient care roundtable

Verna Jones, director of The American Legion Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Division, took part in an Oct. 25 roundtable discussion held by the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Health title "Innovative Private Sector Technologies to Improve Patient Safety."

The roundtable heard from several vendors who make technological products designed to reduce accidental infections in health-care facilities. Discussion centered on how the Department of Veterans Affairs can use emerging technologies and adopt best practices to further protect veterans from hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA (a strain of staph bacteria that is resistant to some common antibiotics).

Jones urged VA to make full use of its VISTA (Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture) software program to track patient infections and determine the best strategies to eliminate them.

"Many of these new technologies, such as VISTA, offer cutting-edge advantages to our VA patients," Jones said. "But any high-tech system can still suffer from humans who operate them inefficiently. It really doesn't do much good to have a highly automated and effective reporting system for infections if medical staff aren't following proper techniques to prevent those infections in the first place."

Jones said that VA procedures and requirements for preventing patient infections need to be enforced consistently at every Veterans Integrated Service Network in the country.

Other attendees at the roundtable included Norbert Doyle, acting chief procurement and logistics officer for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA); Donna Dunton, director of infection prevention and control at Eastern Maine Medical Center; and Dr. Rajiv Jain, chief consultant for specialty care services at the VHA.