Some justice was served at the Tomah, Wisconsin VA last week. A deal was reached between Dr. David “Candy Man” Houlihan and the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services over the over-prescribing of medication to veteran patients. In exchange for regulators dropping their investigation into his actions, the Candy Man will surrender his license to practice medicine in the state of Wisconsin. And for good reason.
Tomah’s VA has been the scene of massive amounts of misconduct, which earned it the nickname “Candy Land.” Dr. Houlihan oversaw the facility and it was found that he failed “to provide appropriate care” to at least 20 veterans during his time at the medical center.” One veteran, a 35-year-old Marine, died of a lethal mix of prescription drugs he received at this facility.
Not only were there concerns about the prescription practices themselves, but also alleged intimidation and retaliation after whistleblowers questioned the practices. One report states that a facility pharmacist was “fired after questing prescriptions” and another whistleblower, Christopher Kirkpatrick, “died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.” Prior to his death, Kirkpatrick had raised red flags about over-prescribing practices at the medical center.”
Perhaps the removal of Houlihan’s medical license will be the beginning of change at Tomah. This one incident of accountability for unprofessional conduct, despite it being long overdue, is a step in the right direction.
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