VA releases opiate management tool ahead of Tomah results

Opioid Therapy Risk Report launched

The Department of Veterans Affairs launched a new computer tool to reduce opiate overprescribing ahead of the completion of a probe into its hospital in Tomah.

Dr. Carolyn Clancy, interim secretary for health for the Department of Veterans Affairs, announced the new Opioid Therapy Risk Report on Monday.

Clancy said it will allow doctors to better monitor their patients’ opiate prescriptions, as the report allows VA providers to review all pertinent clinical data related to pain treatment in one place.

“All of American medicine is aiming to better understand how to treat severe pain, and Veterans receiving care in the VA health care system typically suffer from higher rates of chronic pain than the general public,” Clancy said. “While opioid medications may be appropriate in some cases of chronic pain, we are dedicated to using them safely and providing effective pain care to our Veterans. It is critical that we ensure system-wide implementation of the Opioid Therapy Risk Report in the weeks ahead.”

Clancy said since the VA established the Opioid Safety Initiative (OSI) in 2012, there are currently:

91,614 fewer patients receiving opioids; 29,281 fewer patients receiving opioids and benzodiazepines together; 71,255 more patients on opioids that have had a urine drug screen to help guide treatment decisions; 67,466 fewer patients on long-term opioid therapy

The VA is investigating reports of overprescribing and retaliatory behavior at Tomah. The hospital came under scrutiny in January amid reports of overprescribing practices that led to the overdose death of a 35-year-old Marine in the hospital’s inpatient care unit.

The Tomah VA released the following statement:

“VAMC has been training providers  on the new Veterans Health Administration tool—the Opioid Therapy Risk Report. The tool is currently available to all Tomah VAMC primary care providers. Providers will continue to have training on how to more effectively utilize the tool as part of ongoing provider education and training on the safe use of opioids.”

On Tuesday, VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson will visit the Tomah VA Medical Center to meet with employees, facility leadership and stakeholders.

Congressman Sean Duffy announced Monday that a hearing will take place for the Tomah VA on March 30.

“Our veterans in Central Wisconsin, they use the Tomah VA and my district goes all around the city of Tomah, so this is very important for the 7th District of Wisconsin,” Duffy told WSAW. “In regard to complaints on Tomah VA, I hadn’t received any. We do have other legislatures who had received these kind of complaints and didn’t do much about it, but once I found out, I was right on this making sure we’re going to expose what’s taking place. I’m the one that went to Chairman Miller and asked him to do a hearing in Wisconsin to expose these facts.”