Veteran Overmedication Prevention Act of 2017 (S 992, 115th Congress)

The Policy

What it does

Directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct an independent review of the deaths of certain veterans by suicide, with special attention to whether those veterans had post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, and other anxiety and depressive disorders.

Synopsis

S 992, the Veteran Overmedication Prevention Act of 2017, directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to work with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to conduct a review of the deaths of all veterans who died by suicide within the last five years of this bill's enactment.

Included in this review must be a list of prescribed medications and legal or illegal substances as found in the bodies of these veterans, especially if those medications were being used by the veteran to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, and other anxiety and depressive disorders.

Further, the review must compare the percentage of veterans who committed suicide and who had post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, and other anxiety and depressive disorders who received a non-medication first-line treatment compared to the percentage of those veterans who only received medication. According to the bill, the term “first-line treatment” means a potential intervention that has been evaluated and assigned a high score within clinical practice guidelines, such as cognitive behavioral therapy.

Similarly, the review must note the number of veterans who committed suicide and who had post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, and other anxiety and depressive disorders for whom non-medication first-line treatment was attempted but determined to be ineffective, and for whom therefore was prescribed medication.

Finally, the review must note the number veterans who committed suicide who had combat experience or trauma related to combat experience, including military sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress; and must include a description of how the VA maintains appropriate staffing levels for mental health professionals.

Context

The Science


The Debate