VA hospitals routinely overdose vets

Two years after an Iraq war veteran overdosed on medication at a Veterans Affairs facility, the problems blamed in his death have not been corrected at many of the VA’s residential treatment sites, a government study found.

The VA’s inspector general ordered the review as part of legislation passed to fix problems after the 2007 death of 27-year-old Justin Bailey in a Los Angeles residential facility.

Bailey, a Marine, had surgeries for a groin injury he sustained during the first part of the Iraq war and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

His father, Tony Bailey, later testified before Congress that the day before his son died, he was given five different prescriptions in doses covering 14, 15 and 30 days. The father also said that his son had been in the treatment facility for six weeks, but had yet to see a psychiatrist. He said his son was known to abuse prescription medications and had used illegal drugs.

The inspector general’s review says less than half of sites visited had appropriate policies to screen patients. It also says more than 10 percent of patients allowed to give themselves narcotics received more than a week’s supply.

"This report indicates what we and the Bailey family feared," said Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs committee.

Akaka, however, said he was pleased the administration has said it will implement improvements, and he will work to make sure that happens. The IG review said the VA agreed to changes it recommended.

The review was dated June 25, but was released this week.


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