Sunday, February 15, 2015

Veterans Dying on Multiple Medications

What Good Do Investigations Do When Nothing Changes?
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
February 15, 2015

Another investigation is being called for relating to veterans dying on multiple medications. It is mind numbing considering how many investigations have done little to address what they discovered before.

We talk about veterans committing suicide, so the same bills written by members of congress are pieced together from other bills, passed, signed and proven to have done little to save lives. (Hint: suicide go up after more is done proves they don't have a clue and haven't cared to figure out what they got wrong.) Then, as there are more and more suicides they call for investigations. Why? They didn't do anything about what they learned years ago!
Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin is now calling for a criminal investigation into the VA Medical Center in Tomah. She points to concerns about the use of prescription drugs and the deaths of three veterans, one of whom died in downtown Milwaukee.
Cpl. Chad Oligschlaeger returned from Iraq in early 2006 haunted by the memory of a fellow Marine he thought he should have saved. In the spring, two years after the nightmares began, he told his family that doctors had diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder and put him on at least six types of medication. The Marines sent him to alcohol rehab and were arranging treatment at a mental health clinic. He was found dead in his room at the Twentynine Palms Marine base in California on May 20. He was 21.

But it wasn't just members of the military getting medications. They were doing it to veterans as well.

Oligschlaeger's death came in 2008. But it wasn't something no one saw coming. The military had been medicating troops for a long time.

This isn't the first time members of congress have been told about what has been going on.
Stan White's son Andrew, who was found dead in bed at the family's Cross Lanes, W.Va., home on Feb. 12, 2007, is one among a cluster of young veterans in the state who have died in their sleep with little explanation. Now Mr. White wants the federal government to monitor the drugs it prescribes to some 375,000 soldiers who have been diagnosed with mental trauma.

Shirley White of Cross Lanes, Andrew's mother, says she and her husband want an investigation into the medications prescribed to their son and other veterans who died.

So far, he has identified nine veterans across the country - including four in West Virginia - who have died in their sleep after taking antidepressant and antipsychotic medications.

Mr. White has met with members of Congress and asked for Capitol Hill hearings to investigate the deaths. His research prompted a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) investigation into Andrew's and one other death, which were found to have been caused by "combined drug intoxication." But the investigation could not determine whether the prescribed medications were at fault.

Families were contacting members of congress to do something about all this.
The cover letter on the official military autopsy for Chris Bachus strongly recommends that family members not read it alone, but with a family friend or minister.

It spells out the 27 prescriptions found near the body in March 2008, at Camp Geiger in North Carolina. The death was ruled accidental, blamed on "multi-drug toxicity."

The list of 27 prescription bottles found at the scene of death takes up most of a page of the autopsy, from topiramate to oxycodone to lorazepam.

By 2009 there were more calls for investigations,
The Senate on Wednesday ordered an independent study to determine whether an increase in military suicides could be the result of sending troops into combat while they are taking antidepressants or sleeping pills.

Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., who pushed for the study, said he does not know whether there is a link, but he believes prescription drug use, especially when it is not closely supervised by medical personnel, needs a closer look.

“One thing we should all be concerned about is that there are more and more of our soldiers who are using prescription antidepressant drugs ... and we are not clear as to whether they are under appropriate medical supervision,” Cardin said.

In 2011, there were even more questions and less answers
WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The head of the nation's largest veterans service organization says he is "greatly concerned" about the widespread use of an apparently ineffective medication by VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) doctors treating patients with post traumatic stress (PTS).

"It is alarming," said Jimmie L. Foster, national commander of The American Legion, "that fully 20 percent of the nearly 87,000 veterans VA physicians treated for PTS last year were given a medication that has proven to be pretty much useless."

According to a study conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs itself and published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Risperdal, an antipsychotic medication commonly prescribed to veterans with post traumatic stress when antidepressants have failed to help, does not alleviate the symptoms of PTS.

"Not only that," said Foster, "but Risperdal is not even approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of PTS." Only two medications, Zoloft and Paxil, both antidepressants, are government-approved to treat PTS and neither drug, say researchers, is very effective at treating patients with a chronic form of the disorder. "I am greatly concerned that veterans suffering the 'invisible wounds of war' are receiving equally invisible care," said Foster.
In 2012 the IG was investigating medications given to PTSD veterans
Warning on multi-drug toxicity.
The VA Office of Inspector General Office of Healthcare Inspections conducted a review of the medication management provided for a patient who received health care and prescriptions at the Lincoln Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) of the VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Healthcare System. The patient died unexpectedly, and a medical examiner determined the patient’s cause of death was accidental multidrug toxicity. The purpose of this review was to determine if the patient received appropriate medication management.

The patient had a complex medical and mental health history, which included acute and chronic pain. He was well known to CBOC staff; from 2004 through February 2012, he received MH, primary care, and/or pharmacy services at least every 30 days at the CBOC.

A psychiatrist treated the patient and prescribed medications to address his mental health needs. A physician assistant treated the patient and prescribed medications to address his other acute and chronic conditions. CBOC providers prescribed a number of medications that had the potential for adverse interactions. The patient’s medication regimen remained essentially the same for several years prior to his death. Providers performed medication reconciliations, (reviews of active VA and non-VA medications), and monitored the patient’s compliance with his medication regimen.

Not much happened. The military and the VA were still giving out the same medications they questioned years before.

Suicide story of Sgt. Justin Junkin has all the reasons If you want to know why there are so many suicides, you need to read this. It has it all. Sgt. Justin Junkin had survivors guilt, suffered from the lingering stigma of PTSD even though he was helping other soldiers, plus medication issues with Zoloft and Klonopin. He knew the basics of PTSD and so did his wife. Justin ended his pain not by healing, not by getting what he needed to fight this destroyer inside of him. He ended his pain by ending his own life. All of us need to pay attention to this whole story.
The mental health watchdog Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) announces the second in a four-part series by award-winning investigative journalist Kelly Patricia O’Meara exploring the epidemic of suicides in the military and the correlation to dramatic increases in psychiatric drug prescriptions to treat the emotional scars of battle.

The second installment covers psycho-pharma’s disastrous chemical experimentation within the military ending in sudden unexplained deaths, including those of Marine corporal Andrew White and Senior Airman Anthony Mena who were prescribed a total of 54 drugs between them, including Seroquel, Effexor, Paxil, Prozac, Remeron, Wellbutrin, Xanax, Zoloft, Ativan, Celexa, Cymbalta, Depakote, Haldol, Klonopin, Lexapro, Lithium, Lunesta, Compazine, Desyrel, Trileptal, and Valium.

"Dr. Thad E. Abrams and Dr. Brian Lund, both of the Center for Comprehensive Access and Delivery Research and Evaluation, Iowa City Veterans Affairs Health Care System, and colleagues analyzed fiscal year 2009 electronic pharmacy data from the Veterans Health Administration for 356,958 veterans with PTSD who were receiving medications from VHA prescribers." Two years ago,
(CBS News) Veterans by the tens of thousands have come home from Iraq and Afghanistan with injuries suffered on the battlefield. Many of them seek treatment at Veterans Affairs hospitals. Now a CBS News investigation has found that some veterans are dying of accidental overdoses of narcotic painkillers at a much higher rate than the general population -- and some VA doctors are speaking out.
Last year NBC reported that not much had changed since the original reports and investigations.
The review, conducted by the independent Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (OIG), found that 92.6 percent of veterans who are chronically prescribed opioid drugs (such as Oxycodone) also were prescribed benzodiazepines (such as Xanax and Valium) -– a mix “strongly associated with death from opioid overdose.”

The audit, which collected data from a population of about a half million veterans, was first reported on by the Center for Investigative Reporting. The VA did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.

In addition, about one third of the veterans prescribed opioids “were on take-home opioids for more than 90 days,” the audit showed.

The problem isn't that people don't pay attention to all of this. The problem is the people paying the most attention are forgotten about and the ones getting the attention forget what they learned.

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