Lawsuit: Over-prescription of opioids led to death at VA medical facility

| Nov 8, 2017 | VA Hospital Negligence

Efforts are ongoing to hold doctors and pharmaceutical companies accountable for their respective roles in the opioid crisis in the United States.

For years, over-prescription of painkillers has been a serious problem in medical facilities, including VA hospitals, where opioids have been prescribed to veterans dealing with a wide variety of health issues.

The family of a Marine said that on the morning of his death he was so sedated that he could hardly speak. He was found unresponsive that afternoon.

A 35-year-old Marine veteran died of a drug overdose at a VA medical center, leaving behind a wife and daughter.

The family filed a claim against the VA a year after the death, but that claim reportedly went unanswered. A year after the initial claim, the family sued the government. Only recently did the federal government reach a settlement of $2.3 million.

The Marine’s death led to the firing of the VA medical center’s chief of staff, and eventually the head of the medical center resigned.

According to the family’s lawsuit, doctors failed to discuss with the Marine the risks of opioid treatment. The lawsuit also noted that the hospital lacked medication used to reverse opioid overdoses, and the Marine did not receive CPR until about 10 minutes after he was found unresponsive.

In fact, this particular VA medical center in Tomah, Wisconsin, was highlighted in an Inspector General’s report that was released after the Marine’s death. The report found that VA doctors were over-prescribing opioid painkillers — so much so that the medical center had been nicknamed “Candy Land.”

Victims of VA hospital negligence have legal options.

To learn more about holding VA hospitals and doctors accountable for medical negligence, please see our overview of VA hospital malpractice.