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Studies show VA providers could be overmedicating their patients

Many in Providence may be surprised when they visit their doctors and find them often hesitant to give out prescription-strength medications. Yet what they may not realize is that doctors understand what many of their patients do not: that medications can be as likely to harm as they are to heal. Overmedication has been an issue that medical professionals have faced for years. And recent data and events have shown that there are certain portions of the population that are at a greater risk of being overmedicated.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has done a world of good for veterans requiring medical services due to their military experiences. Information from the VA suggests that veterans are 50% more likely to have issues with chronic pain than the general population. Yet while the VA has helped countless veterans over the years, recent trends seems to suggest that VA providers are prescribing an alarming amount of medication to their patients, which some believe has contributed to some tragic outcomes. Research done by the Center for Investigative Reporting seems to support these claims, as their research shows VA prescriptions containing major opiates has risen over 270% in the last 12 years. Other research has shown that even though the VA patient population has risen only 29% over a comparable time frame, narcotic prescriptions have risen almost 260%.

Yet while some may see this data as an indication of negligence on the part of VA providers, others point to the lack of resources available to VA facilities or the culture of combat zone providers overmedicating military personnel needing immediate treatment carrying over to domestic practices as the reasons behind this trend.

Whatever the reasons, cases of overmedication can have deadly consequences, from patients dying from lethal combinations of drugs to mental health medications believed to be contribute to patient suicides. Anyone who feels that they or someone they care about has been harmed due to being overmedicated by their health care provider may wish to speak with a personal injury attorney if they wish to pursue legal action.

Source: US News and World Report "Medical Reports, Veterans' Families Suggest VA Is Overmedicating Vets" Elizabeth Flock, Oct. 10, 2013

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