“Every time Scott came home from an appointment, he had different medications, different dosages, and different directions on how to take them,” she said before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health. “My husband was taking up to 15 pills a day within the first six months of treatment.”
McDonald, who paused several times to wipe away tears from her eyes, told lawmakers
that the drugs prescribed her husband included ibuprofen, gabapentin, and meloxicam to treat his pain, and Zoloft, Valium, and Vicodin to treat depression and anxiety. On the day before his death, physicians added Percocet, a powerful narcotic.
Less than 24 hours later, she said she came home to find him disoriented and lethargic. “He said he was fine,” McDonald said, but a half hour later she saw him on the couch “cold and unresponsive.’’
“Chronic pain is the most common medical problem reported by veterans returning from the battlefield,” said Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif. “The treatment of chronic and severe pain often involves physicians prescribing highly addictive pain killers that if not properly monitored can lead to death.”
McDonald testified that she was not allowed to accompany her husband during his treatments at the VA clinic.
“I had to wait in the waiting room,’’ she said. “I was told that due to privacy issues I was not allowed to be there ….“I finally stopped going.”