2011 Issues

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December 2011

Oct 1 2013 Circle the Date for Massive Coding Changeover at VA & Elsewhere

WASHINGTON — Oct. 1, 2013, might mean little to most clinicians now, just a day somewhere between Labor Day and Halloween in about two years. This time next year, however, healthcare providers are likely to... View Article

December 2011

Legislators Skeptical about Improvements at Problem Plagued Miami VAMC

WASHINGTON — Only a few weeks after members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs expressed skepticism about testimony that the problem-plagued Miami VA Medical Center (VAMC) is now running smoothly, the facility’s director was... View Article

December 2011

Winning is the science of being totally prepared

Editor-in-Chief, Chester ‘Trip’ Buckenmaier III, MD, COL, MC, USA When this issue of US Medicine reaches our readers, we will be well into the holiday season and drawing 2011 to a close. Like many, I... View Article


VA’s Mental Health Care As Good or Better than Private Sector Study Finds

WASHINGTON — Veterans with mental illness and substance abuse cost nearly three times as much to treat as the average veteran. According to a VA-commissioned study by the RAND Corp. looking at data from one... View Article


Suicide Prevention Not Working Returning Troops Could Increase Problem

WASHINGTON — Efforts to prevent suicides among servicemembers are not working, according to a new report that warns that the problem is likely to get much worse as more troops return from deployment. A report... View Article

December 2011

VA Opens Fifth Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center to Care for Wounded

SAN ANTONIO, TX–VA has dedicated a new polytrauma rehabilitation center (CRC) at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS) here. The state-of-the-art, $66 million inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation center will treat veterans and active-duty servicemembers... View Article

Coast Guard

Military Resumes Adenovirus Vaccinations After More than a Decade Lapse

WASHINGTON — After more than a decade with military recruits vulnerable to adenovirus (ADV), DoD has begun inoculating personnel with a new vaccine to prevent the sometimes severe respiratory infection. Adenovirus Vaccine.jpg: Army recruit receives... View Article

December 2011

Senators: VA Not Responding Quickly Enough to Sexual Assault Disability Issues

WASHINGTON–With more than 3,000 servicemembers reporting military sexual assault (MST) just last year and with potentially nine times that many cases unreported during that time period, according to DoD, a lot of victims require VA... View Article

December 2011

VA Takes Steps to End Veteran Homelessness

WASHINGTON — When he took office, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki declared he would do his best to eradicate homelessness in the veteran population. He also noted that one of the biggest challenges is successfully reaching... View Article

Air Force

New BRAC-Mandated Medical Center Locations Creating Traffic Gridlock

WASHINGTON — The new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) and the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital (FBCH) are both designed to offer state-of-the-art medical care – assuming staff and patients can ever get to... View Article

December 2011

Can Some Good Come from PTSD or Does the Bad Last for Generations?

WASHINGTON — Can some good eventually come from coping with high levels of psychological stress? Or, does PTSD not only affect returning troops but also their families for generations to come? As researchers grapple with... View Article

December 2011

Lax Oversight of Outside Care Busts Phoenix VA’s Budget

PHOENIX — Extremely lax oversight of the use of outside care was blamed for a budget crisis at the Phoenix VA Healthcare System, according to a recently-released report from the VA Inspector General. The Arizona... View Article

December 2011

Army Seeks to Take Back Prescription Drugs to Avoid Medication Abuse Errors

WASHINGTON — The Army is seeking permanent authority to accept unused or old prescription drugs from military healthcare beneficiaries who wish to get rid of them. In January, Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Army vice chief of... View Article

December 2011

Award-Winning Army Pharmacist Touts Benefits of Military Service

WASHINGTON — When Army pharmacist Maj. Jeffrey Neigh joined the military, it was initially as a way to pay off his school debts. “I went to Duquesne [University] … in Pittsburgh. I would not have... View Article

December 2011

HIV Drug Helps Block Herpes Virus

HIV Drug Helps Block Herpes Virus A recent discovery by NIH researchers has shown the mechanism by which an anti-HIV drug can stop the spread of the virus that causes genital herpes. Tenofovir, when applied... View Article

December 2011

Hepatitis E Threatens Military Forces but U.S. Has Kept It Well-Controlled

Since its discovery in the early 1980s, hepatitis E has been a potent threat to military forces around the world. At one point, the U.S. military was concerned enough to fund intensive research on a... View Article

December 2011

VA Looks to New Treatment Programs to Combat Alarming Rise in HCV-Related Cancer

Alarmed by a near tripling of the number of veterans developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) during the past five years, VA has strengthened its programs for the prevention, screening and treatment of veterans with hepatitis C... View Article

December 2011

Is Cognitive Therapy Effective for TBI- Evidence Still Inconclusive

WASHINGTON — While there is evidence that cognitive rehabilitation therapy (CRT) has a positive impact on TBI, it is not sufficient to develop guidelines on how to apply this type of therapy to specific patients,... View Article

December 2011

Adequate Sleep Matters for Soldiers at Risk for Suicide

WASHINGTON — Insomnia symptoms may be an important predictor of suicidal ideation in military troops, a recent study found.1 For the study, researchers evaluated 311 soldiers (255 men and 56 women) who were recruited as... View Article


Anonymous Surveys Can Be Valuable in Military Mental-Health Screening Study Finds

WASHINGTON — Despite intensive efforts by the military to reduce the stigma of seeking help, troops still might be reluctant to report mental-health problems, suggests a new study of U.S. Army soldiers from one infantry... View Article

December 2011

Veteran Nurse Makes Sure VAMC Is Welcoming Facility for Women

WASHINGTON — During her 20-year career as a nurse working at the Washington DC VA Medical Center, L. Gale Bell, RN, has had any number of jobs, but she said none was more satisfying than... View Article

December 2011

Fund for Chronic Disease Prevention Is Vulnerable Amid Deficit Reduction

WASHINGTON — While some health officials laud the Prevention and Public Health Fund as the nation’s best chance of funneling resources into chronic-disease prevention, it is not clear that the fund can survive deficit-reduction efforts... View Article

November 2011

RelayHealth wins Blue Button Contest

WASHINGTON – And the winner is….. VA announced that RelayHealth, McKesson’s connectivity business is the winner of the “Blue Button for All Americans” contest. In the content, sponsored by VA’s Innovations Initiative (VAi2), RelayHealth won... View Article


Anonymous Surveys Can Be Valuable in Military Mental-Health Screening, Study Finds

WASHINGTON — Despite intensive efforts by the military to reduce the stigma of seeking help, troops still might be reluctant to report mental-health problems, suggests a new study of U.S. Army soldiers from one infantry... View Article


1918 Flu Virus Circulated Silently Before Becoming Killer

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that the flu virus that killed 50 million people worldwide in 1918 “circulated silently” at least four months before the 1918... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Researchers Building a Better Weight-Loss Simulator

A model created by NIH researchers challenges some commonly held diet beliefs, including that eating 3,500 fewer calories, or burning them through exercise, always results in a pound of weight loss. The mathematical model takes... View Article

Editor in Chief

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

“Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” —unknown If I were unfortunate enough to sustain a severe trauma, I would prefer to be taken to a U.S. Military Combat Support Hospital (CSH) over nearly all... View Article

November 2011

November Progress Notes

THE WASHINGTON  VA MEDICAL CENTER (DCVAMC) opened its newly constructed Southern Prince Georges County Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) last month near Joint Base Andrews. This CBOC will offer veterans a variety of healthcare services... View Article

November 2011

Army Expected to Name First Women as Surgeon General

WASHINGTON — The Army is expected to name its first female and first U.S. Army Nurse Corps Officer as the Army surgeon general in December. Maj. Gen. (P) Patricia Horoho, RN, was confirmed by the... View Article

November 2011

Indian Health Services Emergency Director Engineers Vigilance with Harmony

WASHINGTON — Most people probably prefer not to think about floods, tornadoes and other natural and unnatural disasters, but Capt. Darrell LaRoche, USPHS, always is thinking about ways to plan for catastrophes. As the director... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

GAO: Veterans Not Given Enough Information to Appeal Benefits Denials

WASHINGTON — Veterans have difficulty understanding the procedures through which they appeal VA decisions on their benefits, and time-saving measures put in place by VA have done little to improve the review process, according to... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

VA, Paralympic Partnership Successful but Not Yet Available Everywhere

WASHINGTON — The partnership between VA and U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) has gotten veterans nationwide involved in adaptive sports as a further step in rehabilitation and to better re-enter... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Looks at New Weapons in War Against Antibiotic Overuse, Resistant Infections

The war against overuse of antibiotics and the resulting resistant infections is constantly being fought at the VA. Sometimes battles are won – such as a successful program that decreased rates of healthcare associated MRSA... View Article


Do HHS Proposed Changes to Common Rule Go Far Enough, Critics Ask

BETHESDA, MD — This summer, HHS announced a proposal to improve the rules governing the protection of human research subjects — a system usually referred to as the Common Rule, which has been in place... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Treating a Million Diabetes Patients, VA Stays at Cutting Edge

With responsibility for treating diabetes in more than a million veterans in its primary-care population, VA is at the leading edge of care for the metabolic disease. For example, an article this spring in the... View Article


Best-Practice Programs Reduce Diabetes Rate Among Native Americans, Alaskans

Following encouraging results from a demonstration project that involved 36 Indian Health Service (IHS), tribal and urban Indian health programs, the IHS has added “Youth and Type 2 Diabetes Prevention and Treatment” to its list... View Article


National Drug Shortages Plague VA – Pharmacy Officials Detail Response at Public Hearing

SILVER SPRING, MD — VA is not immune to the effects of drug shortages, and even small problems in the drug pipeline can have serious effects on the department’s ability to get the right pharmaceutical... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Powerful New Scanner Improves Diagnosis, Treatment of TBI, PTSD

WASHINGTON — A cutting-edge scanner that combines a whole-body, simultaneous positron emission topography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could be invaluable in helping them better understand what changes are occurring in the brains of... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Military Battles Flu Every Year to Ensure Troop Readiness

WASHINGTON — Every year, the military has to do battle with an especially cunning and adaptable foe: seasonal influenza. During the 2010-2011 flu season, more than 600 cases of the flu were reported among troops... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Concussions in Pro Football Players Provide Clues to Military TBI Treatment

Head Injury Leading Killer Among All-Americans WASHINGTON — Concerns about the long-term effects of repeated head trauma go far beyond military personnel injured in battlefield blasts. More than 50,000 Americans, most of them civilians, die... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

VA Tests Innovative Solutions to Veteran Unemployment

WASHINGTON — Unemployment among veterans is higher than the civilian sector, as servicemembers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have a difficult time finding a place in the work force. This has legislators attempting to understand... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Faced With Lawsuit, TRICARE Reviews Policies After 4.9 Million Patient Data Breach

WASHINGTON — TRICARE is reviewing its current data protection security policies and procedures in response to a data breach that involved personal information on an estimated 4.9 million military clinic and hospital patients. A $4.9... View Article


First Malaria Vaccine Could Be Available in Four Years

WASHINGTON — The world’s first malaria vaccine may finally be within reach. Scientists and public health officials are optimistic about recent news that a malaria vaccine candidate was able to reduce the risk of malaria... View Article


Troops Suffering Increased Devastating Injuries from Blasts

WASHINGTON, DC — Of all of the injuries servicemembers suffer on the battlefield, among the most feared, psychologically as well as physically, are genitourinary. In fact, a recent report offered anecdotal information that some servicemembers... View Article


FDA Is More Bark than Bite on Foreign Drug Imports, Seeks More Authority

WASHINGTON — FDA needs the authority to keep foreign manufacturers who do not comply with regulatory requests from importing their products into the United States, agency officials are telling legislators. Currently, the agency can stop... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Gulf War Veterans Continue to Demonstrate Blood Brain Flow Abnormalities

WASHINGTON — Gulf War veterans continue to demonstrate blood brain flow abnormalities even 20 years after the war and, in some cases, have gotten worse, according to researchers at the University of Texas. This comes... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Recent Court Case Underscores Strict Outside Payment Rules for Federal Physicians

WASHINGTON — Government employees are under strict rules about accepting outside gifts and outside payments. A reminder of that came last month with news that an Army doctor was ordered by a U.S. District Court... View Article


Drug Shortages Tripled in Last Five Years; Critical Medications Unavailable

WASHINGTON — The number of drug shortages reported annually has nearly tripled over the last five years, with much-needed drugs such as chemotherapy, anesthetics and electrolytes disproportionately affected. FDA sometimes can mitigate or even prevent... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

Poor Coordination Between VA, DoD Continues to Hamper Wounded Warrior Program

WASHINGTON — Poor synchronization between DoD and VA may be leading to a worsening of patient-care coordination. If the two departments do not start working together quickly to solve the issue, it could adversely affect... View Article


Army Readiness Eroded By Increasing Numbers of Medically Unfit Soldiers

WASHINGTON — As troops are being drawn down, even while the demand on the force continues, a growing percentage of Army troops are medically unfit for duty, Army officials said at the recent Association of... View Article

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