FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2008, a small child walks toward the front door of the Public Health Service Indian Hospital on the Standing Rock Reservation in Fort Yates. N.D. A federal audit released Monday, July 22, 2019, finds that government hospitals placed Native Americans at increased risk for opioid abuse and overdoses. The audit says a handful of Indian Health Service hospitals, including the Fort Yates Hospital, failed to follow the agency’s protocols for dispensing and prescribing the drug. The Indian Health Service agreed with the more than a dozen recommendations and says changes are in the works. (AP Photo/Will Kincaid, File)

Audit: Hospitals put Native Americans at risk with opioids

July 22, 2019 - 12:05 am

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A federal audit says government hospitals have placed Native American patients at increased risk for opioid abuse and overdoses.

The report was released Monday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Inspector General.

It finds that a handful of Indian Health Service hospitals failed to follow the agency's protocols for prescribing and dispensing the drugs.

The report doesn't draw any conclusions about actual abuse or overdoses. But it says the five hospitals it reviewed had patients who were given opioids in amounts that exceeded federal guidelines.

The Indian Health Service agreed with each of the 13 recommendations, including improving its information technology systems. The agency says changes are coming.

The audit covers hospitals in Arizona, New Mexico, Minnesota, Oklahoma and North Dakota.

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