Two Wisconsin members of Congress called for a probe of the prescribing practices at the VA Medical Center in Tomah after an investigation by a news organization showed huge increases of narcotic painkillers.
The story by the Center for Investigative Reporting, which was published in the Journal Sentinel Monday, said so many opioids were prescribed that the center that some veterans called it “Candy Land.”
The report found that opioid prescriptions quintupled from 2004 to 2012, even as the number of veterans seeking care at the hospital declined. In August, a 35-year-old Marine Corps veteran died of an overdose in the inpatient psychiatric ward.
Current and former hospital staff members described patients who show up to appointments stoned on painkillers and muscle relaxants, doze off and drool during therapy sessions, and burn themselves with cigarettes.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) drafted a letter to the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Veterans Affairs asking for the investigation.
“Our veterans, the finest among us, have earned our gratitude,” Johnson said in a statement. “The treatment they get should be the best care a grateful nation can provide.
In a statement, Duffy said, “These are not just politicians calling for this investigation, these are constituents; mothers and fathers who lost their children due to the failings of the very people charged with their children’s care.
“These stories must end, procedures at the VA must change and those responsible must be held accountable.”
If any veteran or family member is having problems and would like to speak in confidence with Sen. Johnson’s office, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.