- Associated Press - Friday, February 5, 2016

MILWAUKEE (AP) - The former chief of staff at the Wisconsin Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tomah who was fired after allegations of overprescribing narcotics is set to begin practicing psychiatry in La Crosse.

Some patients at the Tomah VA had nicknamed Dr. David Houlihan “candy man,” alleging he prescribed a high amount of pain medications. Although complaints are pending against Houlihan, he has not been charged and continues to hold his license to practice.

A website promoting Houlihan’s new practice says he has “an extensive background” in the industry and “the tools to help you feel positive and self-assured again.” Calls to the office were forwarded to the main office of Counseling Associates, based in Winona, Minnesota.

Houlihan was first placed on leave at the Tomah VA in January 2015 as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs investigated allegations of overprescription of pain medications and retaliatory behavior. The VA told Wisconsin’s congressional delegation that, based on results of an investigation, Houlihan would be fired effective in November. His clinical privileges also were revoked.

The wife of a veteran who died from an overdose at the Tomah VA told WTMJ Radio (https://bit.ly/1PEUVrA ) that she was stunned to learn Houlihan may soon be prescribing drugs to others.

“I am just shocked to know he would be able to open a practice,” said Heather Simcakoski, whose husband, Jason, died in 2014. She urged people to research doctors before becoming their patients.

A VA report last year concluded that patients at the Tomah facility were more likely than patients at other VA hospitals to receive high doses of painkillers. The report also said there was an atmosphere of fear among staff members that affected patient care.

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Information from: WTMJ-AM, https://www.620wtmj.com


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