Report: At Least 6 People Suffered Infection-Related Deaths at Virginia Institution

map of Virginia

by Andy Jones
June 3, 2017

The disAbility Law Center of Virginia released a new report May 22, finding that at least six people suffered preventable and painful deaths between March 2015 and May 2016 because of urinary tract and other infections at a state facility that serves people with developmental disabilities.

“It was alarming to see that a state-operated institution had this many UTI-related deaths,” dlCV’s Executive Director Colleen Miller told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “We’ve raised a number of issues with them about the timeliness of the reports and the absence of information we get in the reports. I don’t think we’ve seen a lasting fix.”

According to the report, UTIs are considered avoidable through proper hydration and sanitation practices. When properly identified, antibiotics are readily available for treatment.

In 2015, the Virginia State Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Sciences released an alert concerning the prevalence of UTIs at the Central Virginia Training Center, in Lynchburg, located in central Virginia. Concerns were also raised by an independent reviewer, appointed as part of a 2012 settlement with the Department of Justice and state regarding conditions in the state’s institutional facilities.

In September 2016, the Department sent the Center a letter, prompting the Center to set up a working group later that year.

This past April, the Center released a UTI Care plan to prevent future tragedies. The Care Plan has instructions for treating each case of UTI, provides proper instructions for the use of Bladderscan equipment and promotes the importance of proper hydration, among other requirements.

“We are saddened by this unnecessary loss of life,” Executve Director Miller said in a news release[PDF]. “Thankfully and at long last, CVTC appears to be responding appropriately to prevent further suffering and death.”

The full report, Death by Infection, can be read here [PDF].

Disability Rights Washington and disAbility Law Center of Virginia are the designated protection and advocacy agencies in Washington and Virginia, and are members of the National Disability Rights Network.