Department of Veterans Affairs physicians told a House subcommittee today that hospital administrators regularly pressured them to prescribe highly addictive narcotic painkillers to patients, even those they had not personally examined.
The hearing marked the first time VA officials have spoken publicly about the skyrocketing number of painkiller prescriptions since The Center for Investigative Reporting revealed the trend last month.
“There are multiple instances when I have been coerced or even ordered to write for Schedule II narcotics when it was against my medical judgment,” said Dr. Pamela Gray, a physician who formerly worked at the VA hospital in Hampton, Va.
Primary care doctors who don’t want to prescribe large amounts of opiates may resign, do as they are told or be terminated, Gray said. Gray was fired.
CIR found that VA scientists have known for two years that the fatal overdose rate among the agency’s patients is nearly double the national average. Since then, CIR’s analysis showed, the rate of opiate prescriptions has continued to rise.
Veterans told lawmakers that alternative treatments to opiates existed only on paper and that they find it very difficult to get medical care that goes beyond powerful medication.
Please read the rest. This is disgusting.