Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Process of Closing WASHINGTON—Walter Reed Army Medical Centers operations are moving this month to new joint facilities at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., called the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and to Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia. By law, the integration of the facilities must take place by Sept. 15th. In late July, Army leaders, patients and staff gathered on the grounds of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to mark the upcoming closure of the medical facility which has provided care for more than a century. More
VA-Prescribed Antipsychotic Has No Effect on PTSD WEST HAVEN, CT — Despite its widespread use, risperidone (Risperdal) is not effective in patients with combat-related PTSD, according to the results of a multicenter VA study. Risperdal, an antipsychotic, has been found successful in treating schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and some of the symptoms of autistic disorder. The drug acts primarily on the dopaminergic and serotonergic systems. Physicians have been using risperidone and other second-generation antipsychotics as adjunctive therapy for PTSD patients who do not respond to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (Saris) believing that it could improve the hyperarousal and re-experiencing symptoms of PTSD. More
CIA Dismissed From Veteran Human Guinea Pig Lawsuit OAKLAND, CA --The CIA cannot be sued by veterans claiming they were used as human guinea pigs by the agency during the Cold War, a federal judge in Oakland ruled this week. The Army remains a defendant in class-action lawsuit filed in 2009 by the Vietnam Veterans of America. Plaintiffs claim that the Army and CIA used more than 7,800 soldiers as human guinea pigs, administering to them as many as 400 types of drugs, including amphetamines and LSD. Veterans involved in the suit claim that some soldiers died, while others suffered adverse physical and mental health effects. With not enough evidence about the CIA’s role in “secrecy oaths” during the medical testing, the judge ruled that the veterans cannot sue the CIA, at least as part of this class-action suit. More
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE AUGUST ISSUE
Ban on Some Military Malpractice Lawsuits Upheld but Controversy Continues WASHINGTON — Military medicine may have dodged a bullet this summer when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to reconsider a case involving the Feres Doctrine, which, in effect, bars active-duty personnel from filing medical malpractice lawsuits against DoD health care providers. Opponents of the law, however, vow to continue the fight in Congress, the only remaining battleground. Although the court accepted briefs on whether to hear the case, it ultimately refused to consider the appeal in the case of SSgt. Dean Witt, an active-dutyservicemember who allegedly died in 2004 from poor postoperative care following an appendectomy at the David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base. Please read this article and participate in this month's online opinion poll about whetherthe Feres Doctrine should be overturned and active-duty military servicemembers be allowed to sue DoD health care providers for medical malpractice? More
VA Health Providers, Beneficiaries Navigate Confusing Stipend Program WASHINGTON — While VA has quickly rolled out its new caregiver-assistance program for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, speed may have come at the expense of transparency and consistency. Or, so said caregivers who report trouble understanding the limitations of the act, as well as disparities in how VA determines the size of the caregiver stipend. VA providers, meanwhile, said their hands are sometimes tied by the strict eligibility provisions of the program, which excludes, among others, patients who are ill but not injured. In addition, providers say they are frustrated by their inability to provide similar support to caregivers of geriatric patients. More
Congressional Testimony Fuels Debate on Deployment-Related Respiratory Disease WASHINGTON — A pulmonary physician recently testified at a Senate subcommittee hearing about the number of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with moderate to severe respiratory diseases, underscoring the growing debate about whether deployment to those theaters of operations increases the risk of developing lung problems. Matthew King, MD, who has treated veterans and troops at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the VA Medical Center in Nashville, said troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are faced with a barrage of respiratory insults, “ranging from dust storms to inhaled smoke from burn pits to aerosolized metal and chemicals from exploding IEDS, blast overpressure or shock waves to the lung, outdoor aero-allergens such as date pollen and indoor aero-allergens such as mold aspergillus.” More
Researchers Work to Solve PTSD Mysteries, Find Effective Treatments SAN FRANCISCO —A number of studies have recently revealed that those diagnosed with PTSD are more likely to suffer from physical ailments as they grow older, including cardiovascular disease, stroke and dementia. Thanks to continuing work being done by VA researchers, including those at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, the reason for the link between PTSD and those ailments is a mystery that soon could be solved. More
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Chinese Proverb
Editor-in-Chief, Chester ‘Trip’ Buckenmaier III, MD, COL, MC, USA.
One of the most stimulating aspects of being a federal medicine provider is the truly global nature of our medical community and patients. Whether at a combat support hospital at Camp Bastian, Afghanistan, a health clinic in Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territories, or the 8th Medical Group, Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, few places on this planet have not been touched at some point by federal medicine.
I believe the worldwide scope of the federal healthcare system is one of many positives that attract and holds many of our outstanding healthcare providers. Providing health care on a global scale does come with challenges for both our providers and patients.
Like most large healthcare systems, our federal system places a tremendous amount of the burden for the care of our worldwide beneficiaries squarely upon the shoulders of primary care providersMore