Many veterans commit suicide every day and the figures are always shocking. Many of these veterans had received medical care from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and one given point had received prescription of opioids from a non-VA doctor to deal with their chronic pain.
Even though there are psychological factors which were the reasons and the drugs were just the tools. Suicide cases among veterans has been more prominent by a gap in the system that is designed to offer the veterans the freedom of seeking medical care from private medical service providers at the expense of the government.
The gap that is found in the coordination, has contributed to different clinical standards among the VA and the non-VA community providers. This so far has proved to be very deadly. The health professionals who are not within the VA do not have to follow the guidelines set by the department.
In a report that was released by the Inspector General Michael J. Missal, stated that veterans who are currently receiving opioid prescriptions from private clinics are at a higher risk of taking an overdose and other hazards since the information related to the medication is not shared uniformly. Missal noted that this needed to change immediately and health care providers who are serving the veterans ought to adhere to consistent guidelines when prescribing opioids. Also, they need to share information that guarantees high quality care for veterans who are high-risk.
The VA agreed, with the principle and the recommendations. According to a statement made by the VA press secretary Curt Cashour, better and detailed coordination needs to be made between the VA health providers and those in the private sector. Especially since there is a great shortage of veteran health care providers.
In a report by the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis that was issued the day before Missal's, it was noted that on a daily basis 142 Americans died from an over dose of opioids. They went ahead to declare that opioids "a prime contributor to our addiction and overdose crisis". As an intervention measure, the commission asked the President to make a national declaration that empowers the government with the authority to make "bold steps" against drug abuse.
In response to the report, The VA Secretary David J. Shulkin responded to the report and noted that recent studies and reports have shown how successful the VA has been when dealing and approaching issues related to pain management and the responsible use of opioids among the Veteran patients.
Ever since the Opioid Safety Initiative was launched back in 2013, according to the VA, the average number of patients receiving the opioids prescription reduced by 27% and those on long-term opioid therapy went down by 33 percent. Shulkin noted that the VA is indeed sharing its eight best practices that are intended to balance the pain management and the use of opioid under the acronym S.T.O.P. P.A.I.N.