VA becomes first hospital system to release opioid prescribing rates

The VA becomes the only health-care system in the country to post information on its opioid-prescribing rates.

VA overhaul

WASHINGTON D.C. (WWLP) – The Veterans Administration is now publicly posting information on opioids dispensed from VA pharmacies, the only health care system in the country to do so.

The drug information disclosure is part of the VA’s efforts to be more transparent after much criticism about systematic problems at VA health facilities nationwide including appointment wait time, access to mental health care, and employee and administration accountability.

At Thursday’s announcement, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David J. Shulkin said, ““Many Veterans enrolled in the VA health-care system suffer from high rates of chronic pain and the prescribing of opioids may be necessary medically. And while VA offers other pain-management options to reduce the need for opioids, it is important that we are transparent on how we prescribe opioids, so Veterans and the public can see what we are doing in our facilities and the progress we have made over time.”

VA also uses other therapies, including physical therapy and complementary and integrative health alternatives, such as meditation, yoga and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

The interactive map shows data over a five-year period (2012-2017). The posted information shows opioid-dispensing rates for each facility and how much those rates have decreased over time. According to the VA, the needs and conditions of Veterans may be different at each facility so the rates of the use of opioids may also be different. It does not contain veterans’ personal information.The prescribing rate information will be updated semi-annually, on January 15 and July 15 of each year.

Find the Department of Veterans Affairs Opioid Prescribing Data here.

Learn more about the VA’s Opioid Safety Initiative.