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Navajo Nation wants feds to address opioid risk

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Posted at 7:12 AM, Jul 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-22 16:12:57-04

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Navajo Nation leaders are troubled by a federal audit that found government hospitals have put Native American patients more at risk for opioid abuse and overdoses.

President Jonathan Nez, who leads the country's largest Native American reservation, said Monday the findings are "very concerning."

He says his administration plans to reach out to Indian Health Service officials and Congress to ensure the matter is addressed.

The report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General asserts five hospitals failed to follow the agency's protocols for prescribing and dispensing drugs.

The Navajo Nation is among several tribes, local governments and other agencies suing pharmaceutical companies and drug distributors over the opioid crisis.

The tribe has said American Indians suffer disproportionately from opioid dependency or abuse.