A VA medical center in Reno, Nev., has been issuing patients addictive painkillers at one of the highest rates out of all the VA hospitals in the nation, according to a recent multimedia report from The Center for Investigative Reporting. The long-form piece looks at the rise in drug use among veterans across the U.S. since 2001.
The Reno Gazette-Journal reported about the investigation, stating that CIR found doctors at the medical center were prescribing 130.9 painkillers containing opiates per 1,000 patients. This represents a 230 percent increase in opiate use at the Reno medical center. According to the news source, the dramatic spike makes the Reno facility the eighth-highest ranking VA hospital in the nation for prescribing addictive painkillers.
However, the hospital asserted that there was no misconduct when treating patients or prescribing the medication, and that the staff strives to work in the best interest of the veterans.
"The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has worked aggressively to promote the safe and effective use of opioid therapy for veterans," the hospital said in a statement. "All VA clinicians discuss with patients the potential benefits of a medication with its possible side-effects, and they are provided the latitude to deliver treatment that is in the best interest of the veteran."
According to the CIR report, the VA has continued to acknowledge the painkiller epidemic among its ranks, even implementing a pain management strategy in 2009 for improving its standard of medical care.