Overdoses from prescription pain killers exceed deaths involving heroin and cocaine combined but the Veterans Affairs Department’s Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Calais, Maine, dispenses them with little oversight, the VA inspector general reported today.
Following up on a whistleblower tip, the IG determined that the clinic dispensed opioids -- medications that include hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone, and morphine -- with little oversight.
The clinic performed initial pain assessments of patients, but reassessments were not consistently documented at the minimum required frequency, the IG said. The clinic did not adequately monitor patients who were prescribed opioids for misuse or diversion of the medication -- including a patient who had a positive urine test.
Evidently no one at the Calais clinic heard about VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s impassioned plea this June that the department seriously consider whether it is part of the substance abuse problem rather than the solution.