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My husband and I are trying to get more involved in my veteran father-in-law's care since he has various health issues the VA can't seem to figure out. He's in a lot of pain and no one seems to know why. The VA sent him to another clinic to get this special high-octain pain killer. I'm honestly not sure if it's a branch of the VA or just some sort of pain center that takes his insurance. We're kinda just realizing how much help he needs and don't have all our ducks in a row yet. Anyways, he gets this medication and then calls my husband and tells him he woke up in in his car several freeway exits past his house with no memory of how he got there. My husband tells him he needs to tell his doctor ASAP and not to drive on that stuff ever again. He agrees. Cool. Fast forward a couple weeks and we get a call that he's in the ER. He says he tried calling the VA several times and they just brush him off. He called the clinic that gave him the drug and a nurse just said, "oh don't worry about it. You have an appointment in a month and we can talk about it then." He ended up getting in a major car accident (luckily his injuries were very minor). We took the pills away from him to be safe, but we don't know where to go from here. If I contact a patient advocate, will it just get him a DUI? He shouldn't have been driving and he probably kinda deserves one, but shouldn't the clinic that told him "not to worry about" his blackouts be culpable as well? What if the clinic just says he's a crazy old junkie and they never said that?

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You can start by researching the drug in question, its side effects and its interactions. If you don't already have it, create a list of his meds, dosages and frequencies. Check the drug in question for interactions with each of his other meds.

I assume he's not a drinker and that there was no drug/alcohol interaction?

Has he ever had memory problems while driving before?

Was anyone injured in the accident? Was he cited with a violation? If the responding officer felt he was driving under the influence of drugs, I would think he would have been issued a ticket at that time.

FF's right; one of you, or both, need to start going with him to the doctor visits; bring the police report if you have to, although it isn't proof that the drug in question was the cause.

Why is he on "high octane" pain killers in the first place if the VA can't determine the cause of the pain? That's just treating the symptoms without finding the cause, although that is how some doctors practice.

Before you go to the next doctor visit, prepare a comprehensive medical history, including surgeries, accidents, war related wounds. Research to determine if any of these could have residual pain and see if you can associate something in his medical history with the kind of pain he's having.

And be prepared to take him to a non VA doctor if necessary.
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Jay, time for you or your husband to take over the medical care of hubby's Dad, go to the doctor appointments with him. Have hubby call the VA and see what they say... could be Dad never did call them and was making an excuse.

I know when it comes to doctors and my Dad, he will go but says very little, and doesn't really pay attention to what the doctor's are saying as Dad is busy thinking about things he needs to do around the house.... a good reason for another set of eyes and ears at the appointment.

Hope this all works out.
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