VA Doctor Tells How She Gets Rid Of The Scourge Of Opioid Overprescription
Heidi Klingbeil, a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doctor in New York, has a solution to the problem of opioid overprescription.
According to Klingbeil, it’s as simple as actually making a diagnosis before dispensing drugs and utilizing more holistic alternatives, Stars and Stripes reports.
“The results have been astonishing,” Klingbeil stated.
Klingbeil combines this philosophy with the practice of employing alternative strategies for pain management. The regional VA health care network where she works has the lowest rate of opioid prescription in the entire country. That is, out of all VA hospitals, Klingbeil’s Veterans Integrated Service Network 3 is in last place, which on this list is a good sign.
“Many came in with opiates as a primary treatment strategy,” she said, according to Stars and Stripes. “It was our conclusion that that wasn’t best serving them for improving their life.”
Opioid over-prescription is a phenomenon weighing heavily on the VA lately. Klingbeil’s approach is the complete opposite of very recent testimony concerning accepted prescription practices at the Tomah VA medical facility. Veterans know Tomah as “Candy Land” because the center hands out 2.5 times the average rate of incredibly high doses. Opioids are so freely dispensed that some veterans have apparently been able to make side-businesses out of funneling drugs to the street, even bringing in enough revenue to make a down payment on a home.
Reports have also surfaced of veterans being so drugged up that they drool and accidentally burn themselves with cigarettes. (RELATED: Tomah VA Hearing Reveals Shocking Details About Retaliation And Opioid Abuse)
Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin confirmed at a recent hearing that the problem of over-prescription isn’t restricted to Tomah.
VA leadership is thrilled at Klingbeil’s results and says that it’s working on implementing the program across the board by emphasizing holistic alternatives to opioids. Some of the alternatives include acupuncture and chiropractic. Swim therapy will soon be added. Since 2012, 90,000 fewer veterans are on opioids, according to the VA.
However, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal blasted the VA last week for only recently acknowledging the problem of over-prescription.
“The problem of over-prescription of opioids has been around for a long time,” Blumenthal said in his opening statement before the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. “We can’t claim it has snuck up on us or surprised us. That’s one reason for my anger and astonishment that the VA system isn’t better than it is. This problem is nationwide and not limited to any one facility.”
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