Investigative reporters have found that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is prescribing veterans 270 percent more opiates than it did 12 years ago. After analyzing data from the VA, the Center for Investigative Reporting found that the VA has dramatically increased its use of opiates, even to veterans with known painkiller addictions. For the last two years, it issued more than one opiate prescription per patient, on average, despite new regulations requiring an “integrated approach” to pain relief.
One military member, Jeffrey Waggoner, was supposed to detox from his painkiller addiction at the VA hospital. Instead, he was heavily sedated and released from the hospital with 19 prescription medications. Waggoner died of an overdose just hours later. Another veteran quoted in the reporting has been prescribed 4,000 oxycodone pills and over a dozen bottles of tramadol since 2008. Despite the fact that he detoxed for an opiate addiction in 2009, VA doctors continued to prescribe opiates until the soldier’s parents threated to sue for medical malpractice.
Earlier reporting found that veterans who use VA doctors die from prescription-drug overdoses at nearly twice the national average.
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