January 2012

Is the VA Mental Health Scheduling System Gamed? Senators Seek Audit

WASHINGTON — Frustrated by the numerous reports of veterans unable to receive timely mental healthcare at VA facilities, legislators have called for the VA Office of the Inspector General to conduct a formal audit of wait times. Sen. Patty… Read More

New Army Surgeon General Is First Woman, Nurse to Hold That Position

WASHINGTON — With the swearing in of Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho, RN, as the Army’s 43rd surgeon general, for the first time a woman or a nurse has been officially in command of the Army’s largest medical organization. Horoho… Read More

Kidney Injuries Sharply Increase Wounded Death Rates

SAN ANTONIO, TX–Kidney injuries have dramatically increased death rates in military personnel evacuated to burn units in Iraq and Afghanistan. Up to 30% of those wounded troops suffer acute kidney injury (AKI) and, with the severe form of the injury,… Read More

Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world, I know because I have done it thousands of times

‘Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.’ – Mark Twain (1835-1910) As an anesthesiologist, on a purely pragmatic level, it is hard not to bear some animosity toward… Read More

Suicide Rate Drops but Veterans Still Struggle to Get Mental Health Care

WASHINGTON — Reports about suicide prevention constantly focus on the difficulty veterans have in receiving mental healthcare, even though the suicide rate is dropping. In fact, there is little disagreement that the suicide threat is greatly diminished in veterans who… Read More

IG Audit Finds Inadequate Documentation for VA Bonuses

WASHINGTON — VA’s program of giving out bonuses as retention incentives has been conducted without appropriate guidance or oversight, and many were handed out without regard for employee reviews, according to an audit conducted by the VA Inspector General’s Office.… Read More

Proposed Law Allows Tribal Courts to Prosecute Non Indians Seeks End to Assault Epidemic

WASHINGTON — Congress is considering legislation to strengthen the ability of tribal law-enforcement agencies to address the epidemic of sexual assaults and domestic violence against women in their communities. According to the Department of Justice, a nationwide survey shows that… Read More

IOM Says Get Rid of 510k approval FDA Responds Not So Fast

WASHINGTON — Six months after the Institute of Medicine (IoM) issued a report recommending the dissolution of FDA’s 510(k) medical device approval process, the agency has yet to release their official response — a delay that has legislators concerned. Unofficially,… Read More

Proposed Changes to Retirement Plans Could Strongly Impact Military Health System

WASHINGTON — Proposed changes to retirement plans are generating much discussion, especially because some professionals, such as those in the Military Health System, often count on pensions to compensate for lower pay levels and other sacrifices throughout their careers. Maj.… Read More

Mild TBI Remains Little Understood and Hard to Diagnose

BETHESDA, MD — With all of the attention given traumatic brain injury in recent years, it can be easy to forget that this is still a nascent area of medical science. It took six years of fighting in Afghanistan and… Read More

Brain Tsunamis Provide Clues to Prevention of Worsening Outcomes in TBI

Washington — If “brain tsunamis” can be prevented, it may be possible to keep some patients who have sustained a serious head injury from suffering devastating further damage to the brain, according to a new study. Jed Hartings PhD That… Read More

End of Era US Military Dismantles Its Hospitals in Iraq

WASHINGTON – The pullout of American troops from Iraq by the end of 2011 marked an end of an era not only for combat operations, but also for U.S. military medicine in the country. In the period before the U.S.… Read More

Low Risk Prostate Cancer Often Is Over Treated

BETHESDA, MD — Many men are receiving curative therapy for prostate cancer who would be better served by more passive, observational treatment, according to a panel of experts convened by the NIH. After examining the available research — much of… Read More

Smoking Cessation Efforts Battling Entrenched Tobacco Culture in Military

“Smoke ’em if you got ’em.” For generations of military personnel, that phrase originating in World War II was the signal to take a break or at least to cool their heels while waiting. So ingrained was tobacco use in… Read More

New Medications Continue to Revolutionize Opioid Addiction Treatment at VA

The problem of prescription opioid addiction is nothing new for U.S. military forces. It stretches back to the mid-1800s, when many wounded Civil War veterans became hooked on narcotics used to control their pain This is a photo of the… Read More

Tackling Combat Trauma Head On Helps Resolve Sleep Disorders

BETHESDA, MD —A problem with insomnia, one of the shared symptoms of TBI and PTSD, sometimes can be overshadowed by what seem to be more serious, immediate symptoms. For those suffering from sleep disorders, however, exhaustion can quickly take over… Read More

Progress Notes

THE JOHN D. CHASE AWARD FOR EXECUTIVE EXCELLENCE has been awarded to Michael Finegan, network director for Veterans Integrated Service Network 11. The award was presented at the 117th Annual Meeting of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States… Read More

IHS Grapples with Pervasive Prescription Opioid Misuse in Tribal Areas

WASHINGTON — When a recent CDC report noted that deaths from prescription painkillers have reached epidemic levels in the past decade in the United States, the news hit especially close to home for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Prescription drug… Read More

Imaging Guidelines Not Followed in Prostate Cancer

Clinicians are not adhering to imaging guidelines for men with incident prostate cancer, a recent study concluded.1 The researchers found that, of 18,491 men at low risk for prostate cancer, 45% received inappropriate imaging, while only 66% of 10,562 men… Read More

VA Expands Benefits for Veterans with Genitourinary Injuries

WASHINGTON — VA has expanded traumatic injury benefits to include servicemembers who suffered injuries in the genitourinary organs during their service. These servicemembers will now be eligible for Servicemember Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI). According to VA, military… Read More