Veterans Suffering from Unexpected Source of Injuries: Overmedication

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A battlefield is a dangerous place, and tens of thousands of US military veterans have come home from Iraq and Afghanistan with injuries suffered on the battlefield. Naturally, many seek treatment at Veterans Affairs hospitals. But, CBS News reports that some veterans are dying of accidental overdoses of narcotic painkillers at a much higher rate than the general population.

Veterans and their families are now raising their concerns with the federal government, and a number of VA doctors are joining their cause. Doctors advise that those in charge continue to ask the doctors to sign off on narcotic prescriptions on patients without seeing them. Such a practice would be illegal for civilian doctors.

CBS News obtained VA data through a records request which showed that the number of prescriptions written by VA doctors and nurse practitioners over the last 11 years had increased by 29%, but narcotics prescriptions had increased by 259%.

Doctors are also concerned about dangerous drug interactions. VA doctors are pressured to medicate away problems rather than suggesting other forms of treatment when possible. The result could be drug interactions that may have harmful side effects, or in the worst cases, even death.

By giving those kinds of quantities of pills, one might assume that requires a rather close eye being kept on the patient. However, doctors report that no such oversight is taking place. In fact, according to data gathered by CBS News from the five states with the most veterans, veterans die of accidental narcotic overdoses at a 33$ higher rate than non-veterans.

Another concern among doctors, veterans, and their families is the type of drugs being prescribed. Often, narcotics like opioids and percocet, while not a last resort, are not generally first-line treatment options, either. Nevertheless, they are being prescribed as though they were. Still, the government counters, the number of veterans with chronic pain being treated with opioid therapy is relatively small.

If you or a loved one has been injured by overmedication at a veterans hospital, you should contact a local attorney. You may have claims for negligence, medical malpractice, and more. Moreover, most personal injury attorneys will handle such a case on a contingency basis, meaning you will not have to pay out-of-pocket but will share a portion of the recovery with the attorney.


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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