V.A. Doctor Says She was Fired for Refusing to Prescribe Higher Doses of Narcotic Painkillers

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A physician working at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) hospital in Missouri claims she was fired for refusing to prescribe higher doses of addictive painkillers to patients.


Dr. Basimah Khulusi told the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) and ABC News that she lost her job at the VA hospital in Kansas City after patients complained that she would not authorize more powerful amounts of opiates.


“I had to do something about it. And I tried,” Khulusi said. “And then, you know, I was let go.”


Khulusi told CIR that the VA informed her she was being terminated so they could replace her with a new doctor who was willing to work in a VA clinic that specialized in giving pain medicine injections.


Abuse of painkillers has been a serious concern among VA patients, with prescriptions for opiates, including hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone and morphine, rising by 270% between 2001 and 2012, according to CIR. That has contributed to a fatal overdose rate of almost double the national average, according to an analysis that was performed by scientists who are part of the VA staff.


Opiate prescriptions at the Kansas City VA alone soared by 173% during the period in question.


Khulusi explained that the majority of her patients were addicted to the drugs, which was why she refused to up their doses.


Some veterans were taking 900 narcotic pain pills a month and 1,000 milligrams of morphine a day, which is 10 times the level she said was safe.


Some of Khulusi’s patients expressed appreciation for her efforts to wean them off of the drugs, but others threatened her, “cussing, cursing, lashing out, complaining to the administration, complaining to the [medical] board to try to take my license away from me,” she told CIR.


VA officials say they are trying to address the problem with a new program, the Opioid Safety Initiative, which is supposed to cut down the number of narcotic painkiller prescriptions.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

Ex-VA Doctor Says She was forced out after Limiting Opiate Prescriptions (by Aaron Glantz and Byron Pitts, Center for Investigative Reporting)

VA’s Opiate Overload Feeds Veterans’ Addictions, Overdose Deaths (by Aaron Glantz, Center for Investigative Reporting)

V.A. Doctors Renewed Opiate Painkillers for Patients They Never Saw (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Is VA Causing Veterans to Overdose on Opiates? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Rattoo 10 years ago
These propagandists must think the American people are stupid. This is more Government BS. Every time the Obama Regime wants to save money on something, they hire whore doctors to render fake medical opinions. They did the same with mammograms, colonoscopies and prostate tests. Due to the nature of their serious injuries and the way wounds, nerve injuries, and breaks healed, many Vets are in severe life-long pain. The number of people overdosing or abusing painkillers is tiny. These Vets need painkillers to make life bearable. This propaganda War is just another way to save money on the backs of Vets, and drive Vets in pain to suicide, which is what the government, apparently, wants.
Robert Lama 10 years ago
As a veteran who uses the VA medical system....SUCH AS IT IS... I am a bit surprised at this article. I went to my local VA medical center with chronic pancreatitis, A WHOLE lot of pain. My VA doctor absolutely refused to give me narcotic pain meds and instead prescribed
Gretchen 10 years ago
why doesn't anyone really look at this physician's background....something isn't quite right. Did anyone look at the statistics of the number of Vets coming to VA with severe pain
anonamouse 10 years ago
Of course, doctors should deny their patients effective pain-killers. Give 'em a couple of high-powered aspirin, and let 'em deal with the pain. It builds character. Plus, it keeps the DEA off your backside.

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