A recent investigation by the Department of Defense inspector general has exposed a series of issues within the White House Medical Unit that occurred during the Trump administration.
The findings include the improper provision of controlled substances to ineligible White House staff and a range of violations of federal law and policy.
The report revealed that the military-operated White House Medical Unit extended healthcare and pharmaceutical services to individuals who were not eligible, contrary to federal regulations.
Senior leaders within the unit were identified as directing practices that deviated from Pentagon guidance, and the report noted that medical unit providers felt they lacked the authority to reject requests from senior leaders.
One alarming discovery was the mishandling of controlled substances, including opioids and sleeping medications, which were found to be “not properly accounted for.” The White House Medical Unit utilized handwritten notes to track inventory, leading to frequent errors.
The report specified instances where Ambien, a sleep aid, was dispensed without proper patient identity verification, and the unit purchased the expensive brand-name Ambien instead of the more cost-effective generic alternative.
Similar discrepancies were observed with Provigil, another sleep aid. Additionally, the watchdog found improper disposal practices for controlled and non-controlled substances.
The report attributed these issues to the fact that “White House medical officials did not consider their operations to be a pharmacy.” It highlighted the lack of oversight from qualified pharmacy staff, raising concerns about prescribing errors and inadequate medication management, posing increased risks to patient health and safety.
The inspector general’s investigation originated from complaints in 2018 alleging inappropriate medical practices by a senior military medical officer assigned to the White House Medical Unit. The report did not disclose specific names.
In response to the findings, the Pentagon watchdog recommended that the director of the Defense Health Agency, in collaboration with the White House Medical Unit director, establish procedures for the proper management of both controlled and non-controlled substances.
Sgt. Ronny Jackson, currently a Republican member of Congress, led the White House Medical Unit from 2009 under former President Barack Obama until 2018 under former President Donald Trump.
Jackson faced controversy in 2018 when Trump nominated him for the secretary of Veterans Affairs position. Accusations included loose dispensing of sleep-related medications, but Jackson withdrew his nomination.
In 2021, a separate Pentagon inspector general report accused Jackson of “inappropriate conduct” during his tenure as the top White House physician.