Veteran left in near vegetative state after computer at Bay Pines stops prescription, daughter says

8 On Your Side

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA)-A Pinellas woman was shocked to learn her father’s medication for a traumatic brain injury was stopped by a computer at the Bill Young Medical Center at Bay Pines, and as a result, she says her father was left in a near vegetative state.

“It’s called being flat, there’s no expression, no cognition no movement on his own his arms legs, unable to speak even open his eyes,” said Brandye Jackson, the daughter and caregiver of Air Force veteran Tom Barr.

In an effort to curb the overprescribing of narcotics and controlled substances, a computer, not a doctor is turning off or stopping prescriptions at the VA hospitals.

Records show Barr’s medication was stopped by a computer at the facility. The doctor who was supposed to catch the error did not.

Jackson says her father suffered a traumatic injury four years ago, and the drugs Methylphenidate or Ritalin help him function.

“Because he has nothing to make his brain fire. Without that medication his brain won’t fire,” Ms. Jackson explained.

When Barr was admitted to the facility in January, Jackson says she left staff specific instructions on how to properly care for him.  At the top of her list was the drug Methylphenidate.

“I was told every day that he was getting it, every day,” added Ms. Jackson.

Brandye says she noticed her dad become less alert and responsive.  His medical records show the drug was stopped.

Jackson says a doctor explained that after a patient is hospitalized for seven days, their prescription for a narcotic or a controlled substance is stopped by a computer.

“In his case, this alert went to a doctor who was on vacation, it wasn’t forwarded to any other doctor that was taking over his care, and if nobody looks for the alerts daily, they don’t get seen anyway,” Ms. Jackson said.

A Bay Pines spokesperson Jason Dangel explains that narcotics and controlled substances are stopped when the prescriptions expire.

“This didn’t just happen to my Dad, it’s not just my Dad’s medication that has fallen off, it’s every veteran’s medication,” said Ms. Jackson.

If you have something that you think should be investigated call our Target 8 Helpline at 1 800 338-0808. Contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com.

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