Federal, Local Officials Probe Deaths at VA Hospital
The Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating five deaths among patients in residential rehabilitation programs or emergency housing at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, the Los Angeles Times reports. The incidents occurred between November 2006 and February.
Dean Norman, chief of staff of the Greater Los Angeles VA System, said at least three of the deaths are alleged to have been caused by illicit drug overdoses, while a fourth allegedly was caused by a prescription drug overdose. The fifth death resulted from medical causes unrelated to an overdose.
The hospital and the Los Angeles County coroner's office also are investigating the cases.
Since the deaths, hospital officials have improved security inside the residential facilities and on the surrounding campus. Officials also increased room checks for illicit drugs and random urine tests, and added more staff on weekend nights (Engel, Los Angeles Times, 4/4).