VA Secretary announces new investigation at Tomah VA - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

VA Secretary announces new investigation at Tomah VA

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A new investigation is underway into the medication practices at the Tomah VA Medical Center.

On Monday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald said the investigation is in response to the allegations of over-medication of patients and retaliation of employees at the federal facility following inquiries from Senator Tammy Baldwin, Rep. Ron Kind, and Rep. Tim Walz.

The review of the medication practices at Tomah is led by Dr. Carolyn Clancy, the Interim Under Secretary for Health.  Secretary McDonald said the review process starts this week and a report back to the Secretary will happen in 30 days.

In addition to the medication review, members of the Office of Accountability Review will also be in Tomah this week to investigate allegations of retaliation against employees who were critical of the medication usage according to an article from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

As these investigations are underway, the Chief of Staff for the Tomah VA, Dr. David Houlihan, was reassigned to a position outside the medical center according to the VA. Another employee was also reassigned to non-clinical duties.  Neither will see patients or prescribe medication while on reassignment.

Secretary McDonald also announced training programs are in progress at the Tomah VA that deal with tracking clinical data for monitoring opioid prescriptions, safe use of opioids, and management of chronic pain.

Based on a March 2014 Office of Inspector General report, the VA has shifted their pharmacy service to report to the Associate Director instead of the Chief of Staff to avoid a conflict of interest. They've also installed a pain control physician to oversee pain management care for patients.

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