The Brockton VA has stepped up security to stop synthetic opioids from sneaking into the facility after a veteran died of a fentanyl overdose.
Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts said management has informed him they’ve increased security, following Hank Brandon Lee’s fatal overdose while in a psychiatric ward for post-traumatic stress disorder, The Enterprise reports.
It’s unclear how Lee obtained the fentanyl, which ended up inside the psychiatric ward and ultimately led to his demise, but the overarching issue of veterans sneaking drugs into VA facilities is a systemic problem in no way limited to the Brockton VA.
As a start, hospital administrators at the facility have now banned new patients from having visitors for the first three days. Administrations have also placed new security cameras in recreational areas, so that veterans can be monitored more closely when they interact with each other.
As The Enterprise notes, veterans have been found smuggling drugs in their ears and in book pages. The drug fentanyl in particular is incredibly difficult to detect because it’s potent in very small doses. Just two to three milligrams of fentanyl is enough to kill, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. As such, fentanyl has been one of the main driving forces behind opioid overdose deaths in Massachusetts, which is where the Brockton VA is located.
Despite VA staff checking on Lee every 15 minutes, he was discovered unresponsive back in March. A subsequent investigation determined that his death was due to a fentanyl overdose.
“It’s obviously a horrible tragedy, and I think the VA in Brockton has taken a number of steps to modify their procedures there,” Lynch said. “The doctors and nurses are all professionals, and many of them are veterans themselves and they’re trying to do the right thing for our veterans. They could make more money at a private hospital, but they do this because they want to serve our vets.”
Lee’s widow wants answers as to how the overdose happened. Although the VA has conducted an internal review, that review is protected from disclosure.
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