Roseburg VA Has Highest Opioid Prescription Rates Nationwide

By Ericka Cruz Guevarra (OPB)
Jan. 11, 2018 11:28 p.m.

The Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center has the highest rate of opioid prescriptions of all VA hospitals nationwide, according to data released by the Department of Veteran's Affairs on Thursday.

The data shows opioid prescription rates range from 3 percent at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center in Ohio to 20 percent at Roseburg  — the highest among VA hospitals in the country.

The data of last year's painkiller prescription rates was released the same day VA officials met with Oregon lawmakers to follow up on the results of a preliminary investigation into Roseburg. According to the VA, the investigation began Oct. 30 and focused on a variety of clinical and administrative areas.

In November, Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden sent a letter to David Shulkin, the secretary of Veterans Affairs, urging him to investigate issues of medical care and allegations of harassment and intimidation against staff and veterans.


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"At today’s meeting with VA officials to provide an update on their investigation, I heard that steps have been taken to improve care for veterans in VA’s Roseburg system," Wyden said. "I have asked for follow-up on those steps and others that officials told us are forthcoming."

Last week, a New York Times article cited interviews with Roseburg doctors and nurses who say administrators have been turning away patients against the recommendations of doctors in order to improve quality-of-care metrics.

In an interview with Think Out Loud's Dave Miller, Roseburg hospital director Doug Paxton called the report "completely false." 

In a statement, the VA did not comment on the results of the preliminary investigation.

“We appreciate the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection’s investigation, and Roseburg VA Health Care System is cooperating fully," the VA said in a statement.

Agency officials said it would "hold employees accountable" if they provided substandard care to veterans.

"That is exactly what we will do in this case. In order to protect the integrity of the investigation, we can’t comment further,” VA officials said in their statement.