The head of the U.S. Department Veterans Affairs has ordered a full review of opiate pain medication practices at the VA Medical Center in Tomah, following reports that patients were over-prescribed the drugs and employees who tried to report the practice faced retaliation from administrators.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald issued the order Monday. In a statement, he said “While important changes are being made to improve services to Wisconsin Veterans immediately, we must ensure that we fully investigate the issues surrounding the possible overuse of powerful medicines and to share these lessons learned throughout our health care system.”
McDonald said he has taken additional steps by directing Dr. Carolyn Clancy, the Interim Under Secretary for Health, to lead the comprehensive review of prescription practices in Tomah. Clancy’s team is to begin on site investigation this week and report back to McDonald within 30 days.
A second team from the Office of Accountability Review will be in Tomah starting this week to run a separate investigation into the alleged retaliatory behavior by certain high-ranking staff against employees.
Several other changes are also in place, including having Pharmacy Service report to the Associate Director instead of the Chief of Staff, so they may appeal clinical decisions without problems. A pain control specialist has also been assigned to Tomah to handle pain management separately from psychiatric care.