New Drug Deaths Linked To Tomah VA Candy Land

Tomah VA Candy Land

Benjamin KrauseA congressional hearing yesterday revealed an additional 4 deaths linked to Tomah VA during the reign of Candy Man Dr. David Houlihan bringing the total unexpected deaths to 33 dead veterans.

The newly uncovered deaths includes one veteran who died of a Houlihan cocktail in 2007 and three others who died in the VA parking lot in 2008 and 2009.

Congress held a hearing yesterday in Tomah VA to investigate problems stemming from the dangerous leadership culture created under Dr. Houlihan. Houlihan is a psychiatrist known for prescribing loads of opioids combined with other drugs that resulted in unlawful treatment of veterans at the medical center.

According to interim under secretary Carolyn Clancy, Houlihan is on leave pending the outcome of the investigation and still collecting a paycheck similar to Sharon Helman.

Reporter Aaron Glantz commented on testimony from former VA pharmacist Noelle Johnson’s testimony during the hearing:

There was Noelle Johnson, a pharmacist who was fired in 2009 after she refused to fill prescriptions for high doses of morphine that she believed were unsafe.

She testified that Deborah Frasher, a nurse practitioner who worked closely with Houlihan, told her that “everyone needed a cocktail” of opiates, tranquilizers and an amphetamine – a drug combination the VA and other health professionals consider unsafe.

Frasher also said Houlihan told the hospital’s pain committee that he didn’t want opiate doses lowered because veterans “would bring their guns to the pharmacy, and start shooting.”

How do you think VA should handle this opioid scandal? VA holds up Minneapolis VA medical center as a shining example of how the agency will change its opioid prescriptive practices. Do you know anyone who would think otherwise?


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  1. Having read this I thought it was rather
    enlightening. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to
    put this short article together. I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and
    leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  2. The article stated that Ms. Johnson was “fired.” Wonder if she got weeks or months “paid leave” like some other employees are getting. I salute her and what she tried to do. Change will not happen until there are alot more ppl in the VA like Ms. Johnson.

  3. 03/31/2015

    Dear Benjamin Krause,

    I was relying on my Mass Media for information…dead silent for hours on such an important event, the Congressional Hearing, in Wisconsin on 03/30/2015. I wanted to see who reports what—and when.

    When is Congress going to ask the FBI Director Comey and the DEA to work faster? We see how fast it goes with Robin Paul the manager of the Transition Clinic for returning veterans at the Roudebush VA Medical Center.

    One Doctor at One Hospital=33 dead.
    150 Hospitals x 33= 4950 giver or take a couple of thousands

    Where is the outrage? After a year! The count is 19,500 a year

    Even Senator McCain can’t cover it up any more by saying—nothing has really changed in a year [“5 Alarm Fire”], just a few days ago.

    Get with Judy Karg in Yuma at the Clinic—she may be able to provide information you are looking for [she told me she had reduced the abusive environment there and at her previous workplace before my brother died].

    So we [Americans] are watching the VA Crumble as we are fed a “cocktail” of death, and The Americans do not spit this shit out?????

    Doctor Houlihan’s orders?

    Everyone ask, “Are you a Vet? It is not sincere, it is meant to be a disqualifying statement [Show Stopper].

    Those who question are aware of my books/research, before I tell them I am an American.

    The conversation ends and most walk away baffled.

    Almost all organizations in America do not like their Leadership questioned even though they ask if there are any questions.

    And this is how a country crumbles to the ground.


    Don Karg

    1. put Google alert in your browser and then state Tomah VA medication Scandal
      then follow the email addy they send you and you will get whatever is posted on your email.
      Fox News is staying on this every day.
      After the Phoenix scandal I contacted, in June 2014, Chairman Miller, (H VAC), the VA IG, the FBI and the CIR. with documented evidence of how VA gets away with stuff like this

      I feel like writing them all a letter today saying “I TOLD YOU SO!”

      Phoenix was only the tip of the Iceberg.

      VA had many ways of getting our of that mess.

      Tomah is different. Every VA patient has a drug med profile and they can find out exactly what they got, when they got it and at what dosage.
      That is how I proved one part of my FTCA wrongful death case.

      One way in which they killed my husband was a medication error that , as VACO stated in a Peer Review) contributed to his untimely death.

      It was only a small part of their proven malpractice.

      Some dope at my RO has tried to over rule that VBA opinion.20 years after my husband died.

      I raised a legal ruckus with them and my files went from the Buffalo RO to VA Central.

      The ramifications of what they tried to do to me could potentially affect others, particularly those who Dr. Johnson said this AM at Fox, should SUE VA over these medication overdoses that caused so many deaths.

      I posted the VA OIG report (the one they didnt want anyone to see) on Tomah at this AM..

      I think I put it into the medication topic.or VA scandal topic….. forget

      1. Gee I am replying to my own reply He he A dew hours ago the VA director called me to tell me I had won a 1151 CUE claim.

        more BS to it but all at the web site I am at….

        After over 20 years they finally agreed that improper VA meds contributed to my husband’s death.
        In 1997 they settled with me over the other malpracticed issues.

        I am sick and tired of these VA quacks, one of which made the most ridiculous medical statements when he/she tried to deny this claim last month. I await a copy of the actual report from VACO and intend to send the H VAC that and the rest of my bogus C & P reviews over the years.

        This C & P shit has to stop I filed 4 CUEs on the denial last month.
        The director said they had committed all of those errors.They even violated my BOD rights.

        I emailed the OGC too saying the “demise” of these quack C & P exams is coming……..I am mad as hell.

        It ( VA paid docs opining on VA claims) is the biggest conflict of interest I ever saw, not to mention how many examiners already know they have the power to deny the claim, regardless of how good the veteran’s evidence is, so they deny it, with some of the lousiest medical BS you can imagine….oh you all know what I mean, you dont need to ‘imagine’

        I wont let them pull this crap on the survivors of Tomah vets, who suffered death by VA.

        The 1151 was for HBP ,improperly dosed and then contraindicated by another med, contributing to the veteran’s death.

        They already paid for the malpractice on my husband;s IHD (AO)
        ,DMII (AO) and CVA (NSC stroke under 1151)


  4. Fools! Don’t you understand how things work in VA? The more drugs prescribed, the sicker the patients become, thereby requiring more drugs, that make them sicker even more, and so forth and so on… In short, the drug companies are raking in billions of dollars of profit and billions of dollars to the middleman (the PPV contract holders) just for processing the prescriptions and bills. If you think that Chairman Miller and his Committee of Watchdogs are not aware of this set up then you are bigger fools than I thought!

  5. The entire VA clinic in Chico, California, and the Redding Outpatient Clinic in Redding, California, are staffed mostly by doctors, other staff, and even heavily Federal VA Police armed guards with semi-automatic and even automatic firearms, that are habitually prescribing and themselves abusing the strongest narcotics known to man. I won’t say his name again here, but one Doctor in particular is addicted to valium and other drugs. He temporarily was suspended when I reported him for such, and both clinics have terrorized me, my wife and kids even to the point of falsely arresting us, injuring us, and stalking us everywhere we go. the other day they set up a weird scam by using a deranged vet who tried to get me to take his sniper rifle and ammo to kill a local federal VA administrator who oddly enough seems as afraid of the VA as we are. she came to our rescue last week when we were called in to pick out the suspect of the murder conspiracy but the VA Police instead, after we identified the crazed vet who may be an operative for them, held me and my wife prisoner, attacked me, threatened to arrest my wife, arrested me, and on and on. The VA is not just out of control, they are delusionally dangerous and are victims of their own medical incompetence and administrative and police screw ups. they are running a drug pushing operation in these clinics and they all must be drug tested and the ones selling it and distributing it and using it must be arrested and prosecuted. they are dangerous as hell. yes, i am afraid, a former US Marine, afraid of them. my defense on that coward sounding position is that if you are not at least a little bit afraid on a combat mission then you are a danger to the unit and yourself and the mission is in jeopardy of failure. whatever. at least Secretary McDonald is normal. or, maybe not.

    1. I agree, Bruce. It costs me quite a bit more $$ using Medicare instead of the VAMC, and I am 100% P&T. Yes, I have to pay both my monthly Medicare Premium AND Medicare Drug Plan Premium…and all co-pays!
      Because for one, I too am scared to death of the subpar medical and mental healthcare they dish out, and two, the VA takes FOREVER to pay Medicare…another Gov’t agency…so long that Medicare will send a person to collections since the VA has taken over 6 months to pay their share, meanwhile, when the VA finally gets around to paying Medicare, they cannot accept payment because it’s already at collections…the vicious circle of incompetence never ends…and they wonder why we Veterans are dropping like flies?
      The third reason is the VA’s antiquated Pharmacy Drug Formulary. Even though I had civilian Dr.’s proof in my own records a certain drug was not only ineffective, but caused both legs and feet to swell-up beyond ability to walk, the VA made me take the same damn RX as a “stepping stone” to *eventually* getting the correct RX approved off-Formulary. I even ASKED them what was wrong with the civilian Dr.’s notes that they would make me have to go through being in pain and potential danger on wrong med to only possibly get the correct one RX’d and was told, “that’s the way it is”!!!!

      That made absolutely no sense to me and never looked back, ran to that bus stop and have not been back to the VA since…hell yes, there’s more than a few reasons to be scared to death of the VAMC’s…a Veteran would probably indeed be safer in a Hot Zone than in the VA’s medical care.
      I am trying to give benefit of doubt with Sec. McDonald, but I am betting we shall see him take a corporate job at Disney between now and end of 2016.

      1. I too had a problem convincing the VA I needed a prescription changed. The one I was given I had severe allergic reactions to causing my face, hands, etc., to swell up with hives all over. They refused to change it until I was tested in the allergy clinic. Over several months, 4 times I was scheduled for this test, and 4 times they cancelled it with lame excuses. On the 4th cancellation, I had another appointment that day. Right after I was told the test was again cancelled, I took a dose of the medicine. Half way through the second appointment, I could feel the reaction starting. By the time I was done, my face was swollen and splotchy, so I went back to the allergy clinic and showed them what a reaction looked like. She seemed rather horrified and said I needed to go to the ER clinic right away, which I did. After over an hour of waiting I was finally seen by a nurse. When I told her what happened, she chewed me out for taking the medicine knowing I was allergic to it. I said after 4 cancellations I was tired of waiting and wanted to prove what the reaction was. It still took another month of fooling around and a call to the Chief of Staff to get the prescription changed.

      2. @91Veteran–
        That medicine in question in my case was Gabapentin…which caused similar hives and swelling of legs and feet…for Peripheral Neuropathy, which in my case is directly related to the infectious diseases the military gave me…I now take the proper med for me, and only other option, Lyrica.
        My civilian Dr.’s I see tell me it is just a slightly tweaked molecule of original Gabapentin, with the Lyrica of course costing A LOT, but it was formulated BECAUSE of grave allergic reactions to the now generic gabapentin, of which, is only on the VA’s Formulary…NOT Lyrica.
        It just enrages me that the VA will not even recognize civilian Specialists in the medical community as they feel or believe they are “above the law and ethics”…just wondering if it was the same medicine in your case?
        “VAMC” to me stands for “Veteran Administration Malpractice Centers”.

  6. The VA as always puts an employee on “paid Leave” They need to be fired without pay as there is plenty of evidence here to do so. Its the way the VA uses its money and just another example. of fraud, waste and mismanagement coming from the top to coddle and protect staff and employees. Just like Secretary McDonald’s lies about firing 600 employees. The state has probably or will take more action then the VA by immediately taking the doctors license !! The doctor is guilty of murder and if he were a doctor on the outside I guarantee you the criminal justice system would have had him in jail cell by now but not the VA nor the office of the Inspector general.

    What are they waiting on?? the facts are the VA is trying to dodge a very very very large series of lawsuits that in fact involve criminal matters by a psychiatrist The more they delay and the more they edge and weave theVA figures they will power the lawsuit amounts fro wrongful death or avoid paying out claims for these deaths or injured from such criminal actions.

    Simple question why aren’t state law enforcement involved in this and a state grand jury from the local district attorney into charge this doctors and others with criminal murder charges, etc Smells of coverup at the highest levels as always by the VA and our federal government.

    Lee Horowitz M.Ed, CAGS
    US Navy Veteran – disabled Vietnam Era Veteran
    Vetrans advocate and civil rights advocate
    [email protected]

    1. Lee, two words: VA Union. Hint: The VA gets by with murder because of the VA Union’s lobbyists who bribe everyone from the Pentagon to the US Dept. of Justice, right down to the local police. We have to start arresting them ourselves. I actually arrested a VA security guard the other day but a Federal VA Cop with a Glock 9mm threatened to kill me if I tried to take him into custody under the citizen’s arrest i did on him. I actually arrested them both, but the VA cop was armed and I was not, so he won, especially since he has that spiffy federal uniform. They beat me up, slammed my head into the pavement, threatened to arrest my wife too, all because they didn’t like us identifying their informant operative who tried to get me to do a sniper hunter killer mission on their own VA clinic director right there in Chico, California. These people are criminally insane and profoundly dangerous to themselves and others. Many of them are on heroin, meth, LSD laced pot, and prescription opiates that local VA doctors provide themselves and all of them with while the local clinics are literally empty when my wife and i try to go there for care for my 100% service connected ptsd with skull fracture tbi, and numerous medical problems. like we said in the Nam thing: The wind doesn’t blow in Vietnam, it sucks!

      1. From: [email protected] Add to Addresses Block Sender

        Date: Wednesday, April 1, 2015 1:34 AM

        To: Los Angeles Times Add to Addresses

        Cc: Los Angeles Times Add to Addresses

        Subject: Re: As California goes…

        Size: 8 KB


        Los Angeles Times
        Los Angeles Times

        Renata Simril, Chief of Staff, Los Angeles Times

        Re: As California goes…

        Dear LA Times,

        I had watched California Politics for Five (5) years [1988 to 1993].

        I had been taught the history by research and being an actual participant.

        I have been in the LA Times Building taking Deming Classes.

        And I know what the LA Times pulled off and what they let to rot in the sun.

        Do not pat yourself on the back, just yet!

        1998 Cox Report.—-where was Ralph Vartabedian–he was not the one “Knee Deep
        in Blood”? Is he dead like Karlheniz Halter 02/15/2015 [Mother and Father
        too!], John Bogart, Dea Langlouis, Robin Pantich, Judge McKee, Judge O’Neil,
        Rep. Glen Anderson, Col. Gravel, Fred the Butcher [Alpine Village], Larry and
        Heidi Slater, and Marcos—floating in the Hahn’s lake at Kaiser Permanente in
        Harbor City?—the list goes on and on.

        I think “Toni Planegger suffered one in 1987, after he told us about the
        conspiracy in Carson [July, 1987]” and Anna Maria Halter start this ball

        You stated, “If states are ‘laboratories of democracy,’ then there’s no doubt:
        California is the most cutting-edge of them all.” I do not want to be around
        your cutting edge, I have seen it up close and personal.

        How are the Genocide Investigations going with the Los Angeles
        Germans/Donauschwabens [5,000] see Senator Feinstein and the State Department-it
        has been nearly a Decade since these organizations started their investigations.

        You guys never gave a shit—not when we called it Treason in October of
        1988—nearly 30 years have gone by—Fuck you!

        Is James Box still alive, the Publisher of the Daily Breeze who arrogantly asked
        Heinz, “Do you think they are all lying?”

        The 1998 Cox Report concluded and opened the true meaning of Cover-ups.

        Your “Newspaper better increase the investigations into Veterans
        Administration–“delusionally dangerous” activities in Redding,
        California—there are more people watching, your newspaper, Nationwide as my
        Congressman recently stated—it [the VA Scandal] is no longer local.


        Don Karg

  7. “Nothing will change until the doctor, the Chief Medical Officer, and the Hospital Director are prosecuted by the Department of Justice”

    This is really the turning point…

    The sooner heads roll, the sooner the rats will jump ship, you will see a mutiny.

    The bottom line, as long as the guilty feel protected from prosecution, why would they even worry about being caught or even noticed?

    1. Agreed. WTF was a psyc doing prescribing narcotics? WTF was meant to be supervising this clown? As someone who is “narcotic DEPENDENT^ as in I need pain management to be able to carry out basic life functions due to injuries sustained while on active duty this crap really pisses me off due to the difficulty I have getting proper pain management as it is. This sort of malpractice by yet another VA doctor (btw, it doesn’t indicate if this Houlhan is a real MD/DO or a psudo doc out of Asia with a MSSB) only serves to give the DEA yet more license to practice medicine it’s self.

  8. I have rarely been prescribed narcotics, even when indicated. This started in White River Jct., VT VAMC back in 2008. It seems the VA was known as the center for drug distribution before I started going there. There was an investigation and of course, the inevitable over correction of policy. Practically no one was prescribed a narcotic.

    I have PTSD and am treated with Lorazepam (a benzodiazapine) for anxiety and insomnia. The VA also said is not proper treatment for PTSD, even though I have been prescribed lorazepam through 3 VAMCs for a period of 8 years. I do not abuse them. In fact I have told my shrink when I don’t need a refill.

    My psychiatrist has confided in me that they give her a lot of grief over prescribing benzos. She told me she was handed a list of all her patients who are on benzos, and told according to her, “to do something about this.” The VAs quest for less prescribing of Narcotics has already led to veteran suicides, if benzos go that way, there will be many more.

    That is the issue I see with the VA. They have one or two idiots who never saw a drug they didn’t like and want to prescribe it to everyone and then you have the consequences of such a reversal of policy; it goes too far in the other direction.

    The quacks need to be removed – it doesn’t take years to know you have a bad apple and good doctors need to be allowed to practice and not feel they have big brother watching over their every move. The VA will never get that right.

  9. This sad story is not unique to VA. Many drs out there prescribe meds without concern for addiction, without concern for toxicity, and are too arrogant. Then we get a backlash and people who truly need certain meds cannot get them. Drs need to be better educated and follow up more with their patients.

    1. This exactly what a current Section 1151 case I have (at VACO, because I contacted Allison Hickey)
      is all about.

      I won a FTCA settlement in 1997 for the wrongful death of my husband.
      And because I also proved two Agent Orange conditions caused his death, the wrongful death settlement still stood, as VA malpracticed on the AO disabilities as well.

      Due to his overall direct SC death rating, they still owe me some 1151 money.

      I had, as evidence, a medical report VACO did long ago, from a top VA cardiologist, who still does these reports for VA OGC, that says the medication error they made (in addition to other medical errors, ‘contributed to his death.’ and yet someone under a ‘medical review’ last month.( because I contacted MS Hickey as I had never received anything from my RO Buffalo, in over 2 1/2 years on both of my claims).

      they, Buffalo RO, immedtaley denied the 1151 claim, attempting to over rule a VHA opinion from a top well known VA cardiologist,with bogus unfounded statements that have no medical basis,at all. with the evidence they had..

      Will that happen to any FTCA claimants who file for wrongful death and/or 1151 regarding Tomah?

      The VA will, even if they have private IMOs supporting the malpractice due to meds, obtain a VHA opinion, under FTCA..

      The VHA opinion, if the evidence warrants it, will support a medication error finding causing additional disability or death to the veteran.

      BUT, somewhere down the road…20 years later some clown at a VARO can attempt to over rule an establioshed VHA opinion.

      As what happened to me recently.

      I have never seen any VHA opinion over ruled in 20 years.Not at the BVA nor at CAVC,by any VARO medical person (I dont think any medical person even prepared this review.)..which ,when I asked the director for a copy of it, she said she forgot I asked and had sent the files to VACO already…yeah right….

      If I dont get a proper result from VACO soon, I will contact the CIR,who did a lot of investigative work for the article on Tomah.
      And I will tell them about the other stuff they should be looking into…stuff I sent to the H VAC, to the FBUI, and to the VAOIG. months ago, with no response,

      VA saves live every day and has exemplary medical people at every level.
      But it only takes one doctor to kill a vet.

      In my husband’s case it took many VA doctors from 2 different VAMCs, to kill him.

      They were never reported to the NPDB. (in defiance of the NPDB mandate.)

      I almost choked on the reason a OGC lawyer gave me for the lack of reporting them.

      He said there were “too many doctors” who committed the malpractice.

      That is one reason for the NPDB mandate! To prevent future malpractice….!

      Check every med you get from them and make sure it is not contraindicated by any other VA meds.

      An initial overly prescribed med, at some point,even if not contraindicated by another VA med, can cause so many other problems, that it can put a veteran on a marble slab ,with a tag on their toe.And if not autopsied, their survivors might never know what really caused their death.

      Tomah is sure not an isolated event.

  10. Why is the focus only on Tomah? This is going on across the country and has been for a long time.

  11. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis. questioned the VA’s Interim Undersecretary for Health Carolyn Clancy about Dr. David Houlihan (candy man), Deborah Frasher, (a nurse practitioner), and Mario DeSanctis (Tomah hospital Director), and she stated they were all still on the payroll. Rep. Duffy then stated “That’s what makes people angry here; people aren’t being held accountable and aren’t fired.”
    The article also stated that this was the sixth congressional hearing where overmedication and abuse of authority at the Tomah VA have been discussed since CIR revealed the problems in a story published Jan. 8. Six since Jan 8? I think that in six meetings something should have been found and implemented at this facility.
    Now I am a vet how need this type of med for my chronic pain that has limited treatment options and the VA will do nothing to treat my condition except for the medicine. I think that this type of prescribing is not right and it hurts those of us how need these meds. I hope that something will be done and done soon. I also hope that this does not make the VA clamp down more on the correct prescribing of meds.

  12. Nothing will change until the doctor, the Chief Medical Officer, and the Hospital Director are prosecuted by the Department of Justice. Of course, as usual I will not hold my breath.

  13. I am sure the VA will handle it like they have for many of my Vietnam veterans, hope time will make it go away. It is working…

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