Doctor named in Beckley VA Medical Center acupuncture investigation

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UPDATE: After reports surfaced of an ongoing investigation at Beckley VA Medical Center involving acupuncture procedures by an unlicensed doctor, WVVA News has confirmed his name.

The person at the center of the investigation is former Dr Jonathan Yates, the same doctor who was sentenced to federal prison for sexually abusing patients in hospital. Hundreds of veterans are urged to have a blood test after receiving the procedures.

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BECKLEY, Va. (WVVA) – Hundreds of patients at Beckley VA Medical Center are urged for blood tests after the Veterans Office Inspector General (OIG) uncovers evidence of an unlicensed doctor performing unauthorized acupuncture procedures in the hospital.

Patients informed WVVA News that they had received phone calls from their primary care physician alerting them to the situation and were asked to get tested for blood-borne pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis.

WVVA News contacted a spokesperson for Beckley VA Medical Center to learn more about the spark that sparked the investigation and received the following response:

“The Office of Inspector General informed our Head of Quality Management on October 20 that they had found documentation of an unaccredited doctor doing needle acupuncture. After notification, our management quickly identified all potential patients who may have been affected and coordinated a plan to ensure they received appropriate follow-up care. We have also launched an immediate internal review. We want to reassure our veterans and the West Virginia community that this doctor is no longer employed by VA.

The spokesperson continued, “The internal review included five registered nurses who reviewed 100% of the doctor’s patient encounters from May 2018 to February 2019 for evidence of needle acupuncture, needling dry or auricular acupuncture, and identified 372 potential patients in the exposure group. Since we cannot validate whether proper sterilization techniques were followed, as a precaution we offer testing to all patients who have received acupuncture. Although the risk of infection for patients is very low, we contact all patients and offer bloodborne pathogen testing for all patients who have been treated by this physician. “

“In addition, a comprehensive review of all infection control practices has been completed and a fully qualified acupuncturist is now employed in the facility.”

“If any of our veterans have any questions or concerns, they can call 304-255-2121 ext. 4172 to further discuss this matter with knowledgeable personnel.

“We extend our sincere apologies to all affected patients and assure you that we are doing everything possible to correct this problem.”

Steve New, counsel for several of the affected patients, said that “the needles were either reused or contaminated in some way, which is another aspect of acupuncture and my clients are urged to come and do blood tests “. “

The acupuncture procedures were performed in the same comprehensive health department where Dr. Jonathan Yates was convicted of patient sexual abuse and occurred over an overlapping period of time.

West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Dr Mark Harris was then chief of staff at the hospital, but previously told WVVA News he was not directly responsible for the Department of Global Health .

“This could be the fallout from some of the bad administrators who were there a few years ago when inappropriate things happened with the Whole Health Clinic. It can be part of it, ”New said.

The novelty encourages more people to get tested to help determine the extent and scope of the problem.

“What they need to do is urge these men and women to get tested or go to the health service because we are trying to figure out how you could have had the unauthorized practice of acupuncture. on you.”

Stay with WVVA News live and online for more new developments.

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