Amid America’s opioid-abuse epidemic, it’s unsurprising — but nevertheless appalling — that such drugs and others are going missing from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Based on information from the VA inspector general’s office, the Government Accountability Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration, The Associated Press reports that “doctors, nurses or pharmacy staff … siphoned away controlled substances for their own use or street sales, or drugs intended for patients simply disappeared.” As a result, “there are nearly 100 open criminal probes” of such misconduct — which hopefully will lead to convictions. And lax monitoring of VA drug supplies isn’t helping: A GAO spot check of four VA hospitals found such monthly inspections were skipped or other requirements were missed.
All this doesn’t just cost taxpayers plenty. Disappearing VA drugs “also raise the possibility that patients will be denied medication they need or that they will be treated by drug-impaired staff,” the AP notes. Never mind that illicitly diverted VA drugs sold on the street help perpetuate addiction’s deadly scourge.
The VA says it’s upgrading training, enforcing compliance with drug-supply inspection procedures and developing improvement plans. If it’s to cross disappearing opioids and other drugs off its long list of problems, the VA also must rid itself of any employee responsible for such misconduct — which dishonors the VA’s mission and jeopardizes lives both within and beyond its facilities’ walls.
Tomorrow: VA workers devoting “official” time to union activities.
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