The Latest: Navajo Nation wants feds to address opioid risk
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The Latest on a federal audit that found U.S. government hospitals put Native Americans at risk of opioid abuse (all times local):
Navajo Nation leaders are troubled by a federal audit that found government hospitals have put Native American patients more at risk for opioid abuse and overdoses.
President Jonathan Nez, who leads the country’s largest Native American reservation, said Monday the findings are “very concerning.”
He says his administration plans to reach out to Indian Health Service officials and Congress to ensure the matter is addressed.
The report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General asserts five hospitals failed to follow the agency’s protocols for prescribing and dispensing drugs.
The Navajo Nation is among several tribes, local governments and other agencies suing pharmaceutical companies and drug distributors over the opioid crisis.
The tribe has said American Indians suffer disproportionately from opioid dependency or abuse.
A federal audit says government hospitals have placed Native American patients at increased risk for opioid abuse and overdoses.
The report was released Monday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General.
It finds that a handful of Indian Health Service hospitals failed to follow the agency’s protocols for prescribing and dispensing the drugs.
The report doesn’t draw any conclusions about actual abuse or overdoses. But it says the five hospitals it reviewed had patients who were given opioids in amounts that exceeded federal guidelines.
The Indian Health Service agreed with each of the 13 recommendations, including improving its information technology systems. The agency says changes are coming.
The audit covers hospitals in Arizona, New Mexico, Minnesota, Oklahoma and North Dakota.