April 2018

Congress, VSOs Have Wait-and- See Position on Jackson Nomination

Questions Raised Over VA Nominee’s Lack of Managerial Experience WASHINGTON — Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, MD, was thrust into the spotlight with his nomination as VA secretary late last month, raising questions about the... View Article

Department of Homeland Security

VA Vows to Meet Deadline for Revamp of Veteran Claims Appeal Process

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON—VA has told legislators that the agency is on track with a new law that will give veterans more options to have their claims appeals reviewed. “We are working against the clock.... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Vets With Respiratory Disease More Responsive to ‘Quit’ Programs

MINNEAPOLIS — Because adults with chronic lower respiratory disease (CLRD) suffer from tobacco-related health issues, they sometimes have greater motivation to quit smoking. But that is not always the case, according to a report in... View Article


Long-term Opioid Prescribing Declines in VHA, Bucking National Trend

Extended Prescribing Dropped from 9.5% in 2012 to 6.2% in 2016 By Brenda L. Mooney IOWA CITY, IA—Long-term prescribing of opioid painkillers is on the decline at the VA, in contrast to what appears to be happening outside of federal medicine.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

New VA Budget Requests Seeks Community Care Expansion

WASHINGTON — Calling the Trump administration’s fiscal years 2019 proposed budget for VA “very strong,” VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, told lawmakers that it “provides the resources to continue VA modernization and to respond to... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

With New Hires, VA Has Net Increase of 8,303 Employees; Still Needs Mental Health Professionals

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON—VA made progress in filling its vacancies last year with a net increase of 8,303 employees, but the agency still struggles to find enough mental health professionals, especially in light of a... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Cancer Patients Less Likely to Receive Excessive Care at End of Life

VA patients dying of cancer are far less likely to receive excessive and unnecessary end-of-life interventions than those treated by Medicare.

Department of Defense (DoD)

DoD, VA Still Struggle with Diagnosing, Treating Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries

Diagnosing and treating mild traumatic brain injury continues to pose challenges for clinicians, TBI experts told lawmakers.

Agencies Home

VA Promises to Resolve Late Payment Issues with Community Healthcare Providers

Slow Reimbursement Frustrated Clinicians, Hurt Veterans’ Credit By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON—Citing the importance of providing payments in a “timely and consistent manner,” the VA announced that it has revised its regulations for payment and reimbursement... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Advanced NSCLC Patients Still Receive Aggressive Treatment

Aggressive care for cancer patients appears to be increasing at the end of life, and the VA is part of that trend, according to a new study.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

New Executive Order Guarantees a Year of Mental Healthcare After Separation from Service

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order directing the DoD, VA and Homeland Security departments develop a plan to ensure that all new veterans receive mental healthcare for at least one year following their separation from service.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Rocky Mountain VAMC Construction Remains Controversial; Set to Open Later This Year

The long delayed and over-budget Rocky Mountain Regional Medical Center in Aurora, CO, is finally scheduled to open its doors in August 2018.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Retired Naval Officer Prepares Nursing School Students to Treat Military Personnel, Veterans

By Stephen Spotswood AUBURN, AL—As more and more veterans begin seeking care in the civilian sector, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that medical centers and educational institutions need to adapt to serve this new patient population.... View Article

Agencies Home

Is Stroke Hospitalization Higher for Mentally Ill Veterans?

A recent study raises questions about whether stroke survivors with severe mental illness are at risk for increased nonpsychiatric hospitalization at the VHA compared to stroke survivors without prior psychiatric diagnoses.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Reduces Email Burden for Clinicians to Allow More Time, Focus on Patients

By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON—Concerned about how much time clinicians spend reading and responding to emails, the VA is changing its messaging system so that more of their focus can be on patient care. The... View Article

Agencies Home

Veterans Treated by VA Often Have Risk Factors for Elder Abuse

The VHA should take a lead role in combatting elder abuse, which affects at least 10% of older adults in the United States, according to a recent medical journal article.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Post-Menopausal Veterans Frequently Prescribed Long-term Opioid Therapy

The VA has focused on reducing the risk of opioid abuse and addiction by issuing guidance that strongly recommends against the use of the painkillers for chronic pain since the implementation of the Opioid Safety Initiative in 2013.

Department of Defense (DoD)

Change in VA/DoD Guidelines for Low Back Pain Surprising Even for Authors

If VA clinicians are surprised by the significant changes in the updated recommendations recently issued by the VA and DoD for the diagnosis and management of low back pain, they are not alone. The evidence review even shocked many members of the work group that wrote the new clinical practice guidelines.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Shortage of Supplies Might Have Delayed Medical Procedures at VAMCs

In response to complaints that clinicians at VAMCs lack adequate medical and surgical products to care for veterans, VA conceded it needs to make its product formulary more robust.

Battlefield Medicine

‘Hacking’ to Improve Care for Wounded Warriors

Hacking isn’t always a bad thing, especially if the result is devices that can help protect servicemembers from injuries.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA, DoD Slash Time for Disabled Servicemembers to Get Through Evaluation Process

The time for injured and ill servicemembers to get through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System process from their date of referral to their notification of benefits has been slashed more than half in the last decade.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Congressional Efforts Seek to Improve, Expand Veterans Choice Legislation

Lawmakers have approved a continuing resolution that included $2.1 billion to temporarily continue VA’s Choice program.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Study Resolves Debate Over Renal Protective Agents Used in Angiography

Is it better to use sodium bicarbonate or -N-acetylcysteine to prevent acute kidney failure related to common angiography procedures?

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Annual DC ‘Stand Down’ Brings Homeless Veterans Into VA Healthcare’s Fold

During the Vietnam War, in order to help battle-weary soldiers obtain a moment of reprieve from combat operations, the military held stand downs at secure base camps.

December 2017

VA’s Effort to Expand Telemedicine Across All States Moves Forward

The House voted in favor of a bill giving VA authority to allow its licensed healthcare providers to practice telemedicine in any state, regardless of whether the patient or provider is located on federal government property.

Agencies Home

VA Clinicians Might Be Switching Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients to Biologics Too Quickly

The development of multiple biologic agents for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in recent years has given patients and clinicians more options for therapy.

December 2017

HCV Complications Increasing for Women Veterans

HOUSTON—The epidemiology clinical course of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is affected by gender. Yet, few long-term longitudinal studies have examined trends in the incidence and prevalence of serious liver complications among women compared with... View Article

Agencies Home

Veterans With Heart Failure, Methamphetamine Use Present Growing Challenges for VA

The rate of heart failure associated with methamphetamine (meth) use appears to be on the upswing in veterans, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2017.

December 2017

GAO: VA Quality Measures on Hospital Compare, Agency Websites Not Accurate, Complete Enough

VA does not have “reasonable assurance” that the healthcare quality measures it reports on Hospital Compare and its own website accurately assess how VAMCs are performing, a new study suggests.

December 2017

Shulkin Pushes for Funding so VA Can ‘Piggyback’ on DoD’s EHR Implementation

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON—After announcing VA’s decision earlier this year to replace VistA with the same electronic health record (EHR) that DoD is using, VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, made a trip to Capitol Hill... View Article

Clinical Topics Home

VA Study Finds Older Medicare Patients Often Are Overtreated for Diabetes

It’s not only the VA that struggles with the balance between just enough treatment of older Type 2 diabetes patients and too much.


VAMC Survey Found High Rates of Asthma, Respiratory Symptoms Among Staff

A survey at a VAMC recorded the prevalence of current diagnosed asthma at 17.6% but also found that nearly half of the healthcare workers reported some asthma-like symptoms.

Cardiovascular Disease

Previous VA Research Borne Out: PCI Provides No Symptom Relief in Stable Angina

In a move that reanimated a long-standing controversy in cardiology, a recently published study supports and extends the findings of landmark research done by the VA more than a decade ago.

Current Issue

VA Makes Decision on Expansion of Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions

VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, said he has made a decision on the expansion of the list of presumptive conditions for Agent Orange compensation and has passed it on to the next step in the process.

December 2017

Trials Provide Promising Results for Army-Developed Zika Vaccine

A vaccine developed by Army researchers to combat Zika virus not only induced a robust immune response in trials but also was found to be safe and well-tolerated in healthy adults.

December 2017

VA Patients More Likely to Die on Kidney Transplant Wait Lists

Distance to VA Transplantation Centers Could Be a Factor By Brenda L. Mooney CLEVELAND—Veterans treated by the VA have lower rates of kidney transplantation when compared with patients who have Medicare or private insurance coverage,... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Regional Anticoagulation Clinic Improvement Methods Bring Benefits Across VA

By Annette M. Boyle BEDFORD, MA—A program launched in eight VA New England medical center anticoagulation clinics not only achieved its goals of improving delivery of anticoagulation care, it also continues to pay dividends in... View Article


Veterans With Heart Failure, Methamphetamine Use Present Growing Challenges for VA

ANAHEIM, CA – The rate of heart failure associated with methamphetamine (meth) use appears to be on the upswing in veterans, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2017. The... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA/DoD Process Ensures Guidelines Reflect Current Research

By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON—Clinicians treating veterans and military patients can expect new guidelines in the coming year on sleep disorders, stroke, asthma, suicide prevention and chronic kidney disease. The VA/DoD guidelines for major diseases... View Article

Agencies Home

VA’s Draft Legislation Seeks to Expand Criteria for Choice Program

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON—The VA has sent draft legislation to Congress that would revamp criteria for outside care, including eliminating the controversial “30-day/40-mile” rule. “We want veterans to work with their VA physicians to make... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Dogged By Revived Bills Seeking Service Animals for PTSD Patients

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON—VA pushed back against congressional bills under consideration last month that would create new pilot programs related to dog therapy. “We do not believe that creating yet another program would add significant... View Article

Agencies Home

Draft Bill Calls for ‘BRAC’-like Commission on VA’s Outdated Infrastructure

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON—Draft congressional legislation is calling for a commission to make recommendations regarding VA’s infrastructure. Even supporters admit the “deck is stacked against” it. In introducing the bill, which potentially could lead to... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

GAO: Applications for VHA Healthcare Benefits Frequently Mishandled

VHA does not have the right protocols in place to ensure applications for enrollment are processed in a timely manner or that enrollment determinations are accurate, according to a new report.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA End-of-Life Care Push Increases Hospice Use Among Veterans

An intense effort by the VA to improve end-of-life care is paying off, with hospice use increasing more among veterans than nonveterans.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

MHS Providers Lack Time,Travel Funding for PTSD, MDD Training

Limitations on travel and the lack of protected time might prevent MHS healthcare providers from receiving additional training in evidence-based therapies for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder (MDD), a recent study suggested.

Department of Defense (DoD)

Army Pharmacy Finds Shorter Hours Reduces Wait Times

The pharmacy team at McDonald Army Health Center (MCAHC) on Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia had a common problem—longer than desired wait times for patients to pick up prescriptions.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Living With a Mystery Disease: One Woman’s Story

At 31, Susan Thornton developed an itchy rash around her waist.


Treatment Options Multiply for Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma

After decades on the sidelines, research in cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) has exploded in recent years, bringing patients with this rare disease new opportunities for treatment.


VA Research Offers Reassurance on Safety of TKIs for Kidney Cancer

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of several tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) over the last decade has substantially improved outcomes for patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma.


California Statistics Indicate Kidney Cancer Rates Might Be Declining Overall

After years of apparently rising rates of kidney cancer, the incidence of early-stage disease seems to be declining, at least in California.

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