The Legionnaires' disease outbreak in the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System could prompt legislation requiring the VA to report within 24 hours any incident of the disease and the detection of Legionalla bacteria.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is scheduled to announce his plan to introduce the legislation at a news conference at 1:15 p.m. today at the Allegheny County Courthouse.
The senator, who pushed for answers after an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at VA Pittsburgh sickened 21 men and killed five of them in 2011 and 2012, said in announcing the news conference that when positive Legionella tests "were first discovered, they were not reported."
A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette review of the outbreak revealed problems with the way the 21 cases were reported and found that government health watchdogs did not have information in time to help prevent the outbreak from spreading.
Last month, Mr. Casey asked VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki to improve VA communications, both internally and to the public.
Mr. Casey also cited the results of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigation and the testimony elicited during a House subcommittee hearing Feb. 5 that "raised many questions about events leading up to the outbreak and how the VAPHS handled the outbreak once it occurred."