VA OIG Ignored Warnings From Outside Pharmacists

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VA OIG Pharmacist

Benjamin KrauseUSA Today just published an article exposing omissions by VA OIG of unfavorable opinions from external pharmacists warning about opioid use at Tomah VA. The warnings were included in a report from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security published Thursday.

Instead of taking action, the agency trusted local VA officials to clean up the problem, which clearly did not occur. The failure resulted in more veterans dying while Tomah VA was under the control of the now infamous Dr. David Houlihan.

Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) has been hammering hard against VA OIG for failing to provide transparent and independent review of agency problems.

“There’s something rotten in Denmark. Let’s face it, there is something going on. It’s obvious that there’s a problem,” Johnson said in an interview Wednesday. “We need an independent inspector general. We’ve got to clean house, at least at the top of that office, and we’ve got to get somebody who is outside the system and the sooner the better.”

Spokeswoman for the head of VA OIG, Catherine Gromek, refused to comment on VA OIG’s lack of inclusion of the warnings from actual independent reviewers of the opioid problem. Instead, she fired back against calls for OIG head Richard Griffin to step down:

“The OIG does have an independent leader — a leader who is independent from VA and Congress.”

I think most readers at this point recognize that Catherine Gromek is full of it and VA OIG is not independent from VA in light of the wait list scam. Stop lying Gromek and save your soul.

Source: https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/2015/06/24/outside-pharmacists-warned-va-about-tomah-opiates/29245289/

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31 Comments

      • I would, but it would be moderated because of the links. They are actual documents from the bogus FLRA, a copy of the veteran’s medical record note summarizing that a special agent communicated with her. The OIG stated a prosecution request came from a 3rd party when in fact it came from VA police and that 3rd party refused to make a statement. The 3rd party was the business manager from LIUNA INTERNATIONAL who was supposed to represent him and conspired with the Agency. It will come out in the District Court of Delaware once the MSPB rules. Their government attorney will need to respond to brady violations and an amended complaint against VA General Counsel, who uses the Privacy Act to withhold discoverable evidence.

  1. Let’s see, the VA at Tomah is called “The Candy Land”! The shrink prescribing the meds is called “The Candy Man”! The pharmacy is filling prescriptions for over 800 oxicodone pills each month to several veterans. The VA OIG concluded, basically, nothing was done wrong. Veterans died. The “Wait List” is 50% worse now, than it was before McDonald took over. The VA was just approved to move $2.6 billion from other resources, ie; the Choice Program and other health cares. Colonoscopy machines were not sterilized correctly, putting thousands of veterans at risk of cancer, aids, gi track infections, etc. etc. etc. Veterans are routinely MISDIAGNOSED by VA doctors and nurses. Alabama has the two worst VAs in the country. Followed by Florida, Colorado and many other U. S. States.
    The list is staggering. It seems no one is doing their jobs CORRECTLY! And it just keeps rolling along just like Obamacare.
    How long is this crap going to continue? When are the powers that be going to stand up to the VA ond its lap dog counter parts. Then say, we can’t keep BSing the Veterans and taxpayers much longer because somethings going to give.
    Have I left anything out?

    • I want to add the following, The statement I made where the pharmacists, with prescriptions from Doctors at Tomah, should have read ; “800 oxicodone pills monthly to veterans each!” That is, in my opinion, disgraceful. I have friend who is a pharmacist. He stated, by law, that should never have been done!
      Others have questioned it as pure drug dealing by anyone who allowed it!
      Remember the “hidden camera” report. Where a VA higher up states; quote, “The VA is turning veterans into drug addicts!”i
      As far as ISIS is concerned, anyone who does NOT believe they are here, is living in Disneyland. The article I referred from was an El Paso, Tx. news source.
      Just this morning on Fox 35 news, in france, a driver was ‘car-jacked’, beheaded and his ‘remains’ were dumped at a chemical plant. ISIS is taking responsibility for the act.
      In my opinion, people in the U.S. should wake up. Our elected and appointed officials are making fools out of us. They, and the public, are burying their heads in the proverbial sand. Tax dollars are being wasted by the second largest government organization in the country.
      Veterans’ organizations are trying to get the VA to do what their supposed to do. Or, at least, that’s what they claim.
      VA employees, from management down, are not being fired and/or arrested for, what is alleged, criminal acts. Instead, they are being “put on administrative leave with pay.”
      Side note ; The Supreme Court just announced anyone can marry anyone they want. I’m paraphrasing the news article that is being broadcasted as I am typing this comment.
      There are so many stories out concerning the VA and what’s going in, and outside, these Great UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, it would be hard to put it down here for everyone to read……
      Make up your own minds. What is important to you? My opinion is, I want to save this “Constitutional Republic” from being drowned in a quagmire of illegalities perpetrated by a few against the many. How can this be done legally?
      Again, in my opinion, the citizens of this country are in the same position as were the “Founding Fathers” were in the 1770’s.
      Has anyone on here read, “Common Sence”, by Thomas Paine? I would strongly suggest reading it. It was, at one point, required in high schools across this nation. There were many required readings at one point. Only, our educational officials have dropped many books which give a true account of our History and Heritage. Shameful, just plain a$$ SHAMEFUL!

    • How do we know that veterans got these meds?

      There was scuttlebutt up here at my local VAMC in NY years ago that arrests were made of at least one nurse who had somehow gotten access to medications for veterans.

      Some vets orgs have supported the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act:

      But the truth is this is only a bandaid to the problems. I should have asked my Congressman to propose a remedial Quack Act when my husband died.

      And this latest news will help the above safety act to get more support .

      Until VA fully reveals it’s hidden malpractice stats, and then maybe the whole public will be outraged, this stuff will continue.

      Yeah, I wrote to Chairman Miller, The Secretary, and even to the FBI on what I know ( some is documented public knowledge at the BVA if you know what to look for) and some is internal knowledge at the OGC, with some proof, .But no one rreally cares.

      https://www.baldwin.senate.gov/press-releases/support-grows-for-jason-simcakoski-memorial-opioid-safety-act-

      Jason’s family hopefully have filed a SF 95 by now and are gathering the evidence from the veteran’s medical records for a wrongful death claim.

      My FTCA wrongful case (although it took tremendous time and study on my part) was the easiest VA claim I ever had.

      That is because the VA lawyers can read. My husband’s death was caused in part because VA doctors cannot read.

      And many of my past claims reveal my RO cant read either.

      This is the Mission statement of the VA:
      https://www.va.gov/about_va/mission.asp

      Abraham Lincoln must be rolling over in his grave.

      As Deep Throat ( Watergate) said……. follow the money…..
      those opioids must have had a sizable street value…and I sure don’t think veterans who needed these meds would sell them…..

  2. Here’s a ‘Historical Fact’, no President, until now, has said, quote; “This is my house!”
    Yesterday on the news, President Obama stated those words to an alleged ‘heckler’.
    I’m sorry to inform him of this, he IS only the ‘caretaker’ while he is in office. That “HOUSE”, IS and has always been the property of the “PEOPLE”! That’s the truth!
    If he was going to say anything, it should have been, in my opinion; “Sir, or Madam, you are being disrespectful in this, the “People’s House”, and if you continue to be disrespectful, I will have you removed!”
    I would have, as many have voiced since, had more respect for him if he had used more due diligence to that ‘illegal alien’ which was in OUR HOUSE heckling him!

    • I would like to see Donald Trump, who says he may run for president as he always does, get on TV when he decides, and say “Barrock Obama, Your Fired!”. That would make me laugh.

  3. Mr. Benjamin Krause,

    With interest I read many of the articles impacting our veterans.

    From my vantage point we are making little progress.

    Would you consider providing a monthly format (last weekend – each month) allowing a discussion for organizing and informing, the public, to pressure Washington’s elected and the VA to improve veteran care?

  4. I sent a link to the Green Bay article to Fox News.

    They are the only network on TV that ever seems to want to reveal VA problems.
    Well maybe other networks do too…but I only watch Fox.

    • WFTV.com Channel 9 news will sometimes report on the problems of the VA. Only I think they only do so when it comes to the taxpayers money being spent inappropriately. You might want to send them an e-mail with your concerns.

      • “If it comes to the taxpayers money being spent inappropriately!” WTF! The VA waste more money except Obama and his golf games, the VA everyday all day have useless people that are referred to a doctors and I do believe that the more carnage the doctor causes the more of a BONUS they get! Not only them but the useless administrator’s that do nothing but quote regulation after regulation and as the other “Home Depot Hires,” do nothing that they say but will collect that BONUS and pass out the “Toe Tags,” (made in China of course) for every VA Medical Clinic (I quit writing “Health Care” because it is plain for me to see after “47 year’s experience in dealing with the FUBAR Veterans Administration I and every veteran I know has been screwed…The VA in Martinez, California if not the entire Northern California VA Medical System is a sham! Anyone that sticks up for the failed VA, either works for them or get’s a dollar and a case of KY if they pass the rumor that the VA is great. Just another pipe dreamer and lying SOB! FTVA! FBM! FAH! and FBO!

      • I also believe Ch 9 WFTV could be told not to give out any news concerning the VA. They have reported, in the past when it came to the “Allied Veterans” illegal activities, not to report. So I wouldn’t doubt someone has pulled the plug on the news media. Especially When it comes to the VA. I would hope the news media would tell whoever to go to that HOT PLACE! At least one would hope, right!
        As far as I’m concerned, if the news media isn’t reporting on the news, then they themselves are not following their Constitutional authority, “Freedom of the Press!”

  5. Griffin is, and has been, the Acting VAOIG since 2008. Why hasn’t there been one appointed by the President and confirmed by Congress? I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count.

    There will be a time, very soon, were the SHTF.

  6. I think it’s total BS that these Drs were perscribing opiates especially the amount what really sucks is that those of us who have been on them for many years were stripped of them and treated like a drug seeking ,we followed all there rules drug testing and monthly visits ,I can really understand why some might try to take the easy way out when you feel as though no one gives a shit how much constant pain your in,they need to do a study to see what the affects of someone that’s been on them for many years and then stripped it does physical and mental damage ,they don’t care it’s the VA way

    • Gary, if you still have chronic pain problems it might help to try some deep breathing exercises. I know for sever pain it is like putting a Band-Aid on an arterial wound, but it might help take the edge off just a little bit, if done along with anything else you may be already trying. If you want to try it, as soon as you feel extreme pain coming on, you breathe in very deeply through your nose, then slowly exhale, and do that about 5 to 10 times, and it also may help with chronic constant pain. It is a shame we vets have to resort to primitive self-treatments like this, but it may help a little. Take care, and thanks for your service, especially since it was literally very painful.

  7. I use Sacramento VAMC, and as soon as the FDA passed the change making Hydrocodone a Schedule II drug, the VA pain management section began the sudden, unsafe withdrawal from opiates. This began a year or so before the scheduled date that the law would change. This even occurred to the vets with chronic pain, who had safely managed their meds for many years with strict compliance, such as me. After taking these pain meds successfully for over 10 years, my daily and PRN meds, I was given 4 weeks to wean off daily use of Methadone (neurological pain), and Hydrocodone (severe back injury). Anyway, why is it that the Tomah VAMC was handing them out like candy, but our’s were very closely monitored and then were taken away overnight? Is it due to the ‘CURES’ system in California tracking all opiates prescribed and filled by MDs and pharmacies? Can’t they at least come up with their own system that closely tracks these items? With the high incidence of overdose and suicides within the DOD and VA system, shouldn’t they have figured this out, and avoided situations such as the one at Tomah? Such life-threatening problems can be managed, the VA just needs to change their focus to this instead of towards other issues that are irrelevant.

  8. Any chance the VA could now be a front for secret black budget ops, diverted back to the US Dept. of Defense at the Pentagon where it originates from? Maybe for even something of purpose, like to re-fund the Gruman Intruder program, and keep the F-35 development program going? Just asking.

  9. “We need an independent inspector general.”

    Thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU Mr. Johnson!!! For those who have read my recent posts on these threads, say it with me once more with feeling — THE VA CANNOT BE TRUSTED TO POLICE ITSELF!

  10. Drugs, drugs, drugs!

    Gotta prescribe those drugs!

    I wonder if I will ever get rated without taking drugs, drugs, drugs.
    But I’m not ingesting anything VA prescribed or getting cut open by any VA doctor: they are just that incompetent in all aspects of healthcare after being educated as an RN and Acupuncturist.

    Prescription drugs kill more people than anything else. I’d take the time to Goggle about proven alternatives to almost anything drugs are prescribed for and live many more healthier years.

    All drugs are for doctors is commissions, return business, and planned obsolescence with your life.
    FTS!

    • You got that right….
      The pharmaceutical companies given doctors kickbacks for every pill they prescribe. That’s why you see ‘door to door’ sales representatives going to the pharmacies and physicians.
      Every ‘new pill’ is taken to the physicians and pharmacies and ‘sold’ on their ‘benefits to humanity’.
      Next time y’all go to a doctor, ask what’s the ‘side effects’ of a medication. Bet he/she will not know. Or they will only know one or two.
      Does that sound familiar? I have sat through an appointment and had doctors actually state, “I don’t know!” Then they look it up, and read a couple. How’s that for professionalism!!!

  11. I’m not sure if this is the USA TODAY news article Ben was referring to, I would suggest reading it. It’s on their website. The title is;
    “Newly released VA reports include cases of veteran harm, death”.
    It was written by Donovan Slack, on April 29, 2015.
    He writes a scathing account of VA atrocities throughout the nation concerning the VA.
    Additionally, there are lots more articles to read on that, and other sites.

  12. This has nothing to do with the VA. Only I thought y’all might find it interesting.
    In Slidell, La. Wall Mart refused to bake a cake with the Confederate Flag image. Instead, the bakery made a cake with the image of the “ISIS battle flag”!
    Goggle the story. It’s very interesting, to say the least.
    Wal Mart has since apologized for the mistake. Saying, the store didn’t recognize the image. So they claim.
    Also, there is now a push claiming the Massachusetts State Flag represents racism.

  13. Here is a ponder, the VA has had a 50% increase in demand in veterans wanting appointments. Is this because of the VA Scandal exposure and if not , what is the VA’s excuse then if Congress was not alerted of the wait issues that they then allocated more funding.. Data would should this same trend regardless of the discovery of this scandal., including the hospital overruns.

  14. I would like to know what’s happening with the investigation Wisconsin had in place back in February 2015?! Is it still going on? Have they concluded it (like the VA OIG did) and found no wrong doing?
    For some reason I see no one in the VA being held accountable for prescribing 800+ oxycodone, and other barbiturates, to veterans (each). According to a few pharmacists here in Florida, what those’medical professionals’ did WAS ILLEGAL. So, what’s happening????

  15. Bob McDonald is on “60 minutes” now. It’s a show from 2014, I believe. They just showed the ‘actual wait list’ where most veterans were waiting over “400 days” at the VA in Phoenix, Az.
    He says the problem of firing any employee, is the unions.
    Gibson is on the show also.
    McDonald says, He gave doctors a raise!
    He needs 28,000 more doctors. He’s personally recruiting doctors. According to some, many veterans praise the VA.
    One thing he said was, “I served with many of these guys. In dangerous situations!” He had tears in his eyes.
    In my opinion, what a crock of $#!T. He went no where. He was not in any “hot spot”. If he’s going to say things like this, produce your DD 214 and your 201 file, BOB. Prove to all veterans you went into a “dangerous situation”! Or are you like Hillary and Brian Williams. You remember what happened to Williams, right Bob. And the same should have happened to Hillary!!! For lying their a$$e$ off about being in a ‘combat situation’! One has to be “FIRED UPON” to be considered in a ‘dangerous situation’.

    • Yep, it was all BS. I especially took notice of the shot of him at West Point which had to be taken back last November. The wait lists are longer, the Choice Program is a joke, they herald the opening of Orlando, yet it was 300 million over budget and 3 years late and the list goes on and on.

  16. I highly doubt the DEA move on painkiller control was meant for disabled veterans who NEED pain killers.

    This is a problem that results from high school, college, and professional sports using pain killers to keep their players going. No surprise ex football players are suing the NFL for pain killer prescriptions in mega doses. Then BAM, the DEA restricts pain killers.

    And veterans who NEED the pain pills suffer.

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