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VA may be over-prescribing controlled substances

According to reports from The Center for Investigative Reporting, there has been an increasing number of veterans overdosing from prescription medications, especially controlled substances. For example, a 32-year-old paratrooper who had served in Afghanistan was found dead in his hotel room after a VA rehabilitation hospital released him three days earlier for a weekend. He went there to get wean himself off his already paralyzing addiction to painkillers, not to die, his father said. He was found possessing 19 prescriptions, including 12 tablets of the highly addictive drug, oxycodone.

Ever since the 9/11 attacks occurred, the VA has been accused of administering potent drugs to soldiers, even as they attempt to withdraw from powerful painkillers. However, instead of helping veterans recover, the agency is accused of covering up their pain with opiates and feeding addictions that contribute to a fatal overdose rate that is nearly twice the national average.

CIR has discovered that over the past 12 years, there has been a 270 percent surge in prescription opiates, especially oxycodone, morphine, hydrocodone and methadone. This first time analysis by CIR revealed the complete impact of the increase, which occurred at a significantly faster rate than the rise in VA patients and has not remained uniform across the nation. Such easy access to the potent drugs may open up the VA hospitals to medical malpractice suits.

Hospitals, as well as doctors and nurses, should be held responsible for those in their care. Sometimes, patients are given the incorrect medication or given too much medication. Prescription errors can cause injury or death. A medical malpractice attorney may be beneficial to those who believe they were given the wrong medication or too much of a medication. An attorney could evaluate the case in order to ascertain if attempting to receive compensation for damages is a feasible approach.

Source: PBS, "VA's opiate overload feeds veterans' addictions, leading to overdose deaths", Aaron Glantz, October 03, 2013

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