Opioid Discontinuation Associated with Increase in Veteran Suicides

Protest-Rose-JPG

-Kelly F. Merrill

Opioid Discontinuation Associated with Increase in Suicides

Department of Veterans Affairs’ data that shows, “In two sets of fiscal years — 2010-2011 and 2013-2014 — opioid discontinuation was not associated with overdose mortality but was associated with increased suicide mortality.”

 

However, the Department of Veterans Affairs also recently released data showing Mountain Home VA Medical Center reduced opioid prescribing by 49% between 2012 and 2017.

 

Chief of Staff Dr. David Hecht claimed significant safety issues “became more apparent” and the details reveal significant side effects associated with chronic opioid use, which they made an effort to reduce.

 

“Our job is to do no harm as physicians and so when we find out that a medication that we’re prescribing is doing harm or has the potential to do significant harm even if it hasn’t done so already, our job is to try to find alternatives.”

 

The VA’s approach now focuses on alternative treatments, including acupuncture, therapy and yoga.

 

However, some veterans who had been on stable doses of pain medicine have had their medications titrated down though no effective therapies have replaced them.  They say though they’ve tried the various treatments, most have been ineffective.  

 

This is not unique to the experience of pain patients in the current climate.  Marine sergeant Robert D. Rose Jr. filed a suit for $350 million last fall against the VA for pain and suffering and violations to constitutional rights.  He said many veterans like him have been “denied adequate access” to the health care they need since the “discriminatory” anti-opioid initiative first began in 2012.  

 

Those anti-opioid initiatives culminated into the VA March 2016 guidelines which followed the highly controversial, “voluntary” CDC Guidelines in 2016, which Congress forced the VA to adopt with an attached spending bill.

 

But adoption of these initiatives has people concerned that patients who cannot obtain their medications will turn to the street…a death sentence with today’s illicit-fentanyl-laced heroin.  This is already happening, of course.

 

 

At a Congressional hearing in June, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, (D-TX), discussed the unintended consequence of the tighter opioid prescription guidelines currently followed by the VA. “Veterans are now required to see a prescriber every 30 days, but at the El Paso VA, they are unable to get an appointment, so they go without, or they do something they shouldn’t — they buy them on the street.”

Robert D. Rose Jr. I think we need to call Mr. Nate Morabito.  He has tried to present a balanced articles but false sympathy from VA reps toward pain patients are misleading and paint the picture of “compassionate caregiver” discontinuing doses because it’s just so dangerous.  No one…at all…has mentioned *anything* about the devastating physiological effects of pathological pain on every system of the body.

Oh, and regarding Dr. Hecht’s selective application of “First Do No Harm,” let me know if you need reinforcements.  At least Morabito knows what’s up.  The day after he published the article regarding the Mountain Home VA Medical Center’s [self-congratulatory] record reductions in opioid prescribing.

 


Department of Veterans Affairs’ data that shows, “In two sets of fiscal years — 2010-2011 and 2013-2014 — opioid discontinuation was not associated with overdose mortality but was associated with increased suicide mortality.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs recently released data showing Mountain Home VA Medical Center reduced opioid prescribing by 49% between 2012 and 2017.

Chief of Staff Dr. David Hecht claimed significant safety issues “became more apparent” and the details reveal significant side effects associated with chronic opioid use have revealed details indicating significant side effects, which they made an effort to reduce.

“Our job is to do no harm as physicians and so when we find out that a medication that we’re prescribing is doing harm or has the potential to do significant harm even if it hasn’t done so already, our job is to try to find alternatives.”

The VA’s approach now focuses on alternative treatments, including acupuncture, therapy and yoga. However, veterans who had been on stable doses of pain medicine have had their medications titrated down though no effective therapies have replaced them.  They say though they’ve tried the various treatments, most have been found ineffective. 

This is not unique to the experience of pain patients in the current climate.  Marine sergeant Robert D. Rose Jr. filed a suit for $350 million last fall against the VA for pain and suffering and violations to constitutional rights.  He said many veterans like him have been “denied adequate access” to the health care they need since the “discriminatory” anti-opioid initiative first began in 2012.  

Those anti-opioid initiatives culminated into the VA March 2016 guidelines which followed the highly controversial, “voluntary” CDC Guidelines in 2016, which Congress forced the VA to adopt with an attached spending bill.

But adoption of these initiatives has people concerned that patients who cannot obtain their medications will turn to the street…a death sentence with today’s illicit-fentanyl-laced heroin.  This is already happening, of course.

VA reps to discuss impact of opioid reduction on suicides during summit

http://wjhl.com/2018/01/16/va-reps-to-discuss-impact-of-opioid-reduction-on-suicides-during-summit/

By Nate Morabito

Published: January 16, 2018

Mountain Home VA reduces opioid prescriptions by 49%

http://wjhl.com/2018/01/15/mountain-home-va-reduces-opioid-prescriptions-by-49/

By Nate Morabito

Published: January 15, 2018

Marine veteran sues VA Medical Center, Congressman Phil Roe over opioid tapering policy

http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Courts/2017/11/24/Marine-veteran-sues-VA-Medical-Center-over-opioid-tapering-policy

BECKY CAMPBELL

Published:  November 24, 2017

bcampbell@johnsoncitypress.com

VA reducing Opioids, veterans afraid of impact

By Nate Morabito

Published: December 6, 2016

CDC Opioid Guidelines Could Cause Problems for VA Patients, Clinicians

Addiction | February 2016 | Pharmacy

Congress Is Forcing VA to Comply With ‘Voluntary’ Document

By Annette M. Boyle

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One thought on “Opioid Discontinuation Associated with Increase in Veteran Suicides

  1. As a 100% percent service connected Veteran the VA had me on the same opiate dose for 17 years with no liver or kidney or stomach issues during that time. They had me cut down a large amount of opiates in less then 2 weeks and I ended up spending 3 weeks in bed throwing up and sicker then a dog. They just did not care. Where before I could keep my weight down because I could exercise now I can hardly get out of pain. I understand some caution but these are men and women who served there country and instead are being treated like addicts instead of patient that have very painful complex issues. Even thought I am 100% service connected and the VA is suppose to pay for my care I have to pay about $5000.00 a year for out of my own pocket.

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