Dual use of VA and Medicare heightens risk for unsafe opioid use
Erica Sprey of VA Research Communications speaks with Dr. Walid Gellad, a primary care physician and health services researcher at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. Dr. Gellad's research is broadly focused on improving the delivery of health care services, and more specifically, improving Veterans' access to safe and appropriate prescription medications.
Gellad and his colleagues published a study in the American Journal of Public Health that described the number of Veterans who receive opioid medications both through VA and Medicare Part D. The concern is that Veterans who use both systems may be getting potentially unsafe doses of opioids. Gellad says there is a danger that Veterans who are "dual users" will receive higher doses of opioids because of fragmentation of care and lack of communication between VA and community providers.
"VA has done a tremendous amount to address prescription opioid use among Veterans to improve safety," he says. "All of that effort has focused within VA, because that is what they are measuring. There is still not an easy way to nationally measure opioids that Veterans might be getting outside the VA."