June 2012

Single IED Blast Can Cause Degenerative Brain Condition

By Brenda L. Mooney BOSTON — Compelling evidence that a degenerative brain condition can be caused by a single blast, equivalent to a typical improvised explosive device (IED), raises troubling questions about the future healthcare needs of servicemembers returning from… Read More

VA Laboratory Policies Under Scrutiny After Death of Vaccine Researcher

By David Beasley SAN FRANCISCO — State and federal investigations will determine what, if any, changes in VA laboratory policies will result from the death of a researcher in San Francisco. The lab at the Northern California Institute for Research… Read More

VA Claims Backlog Also Caused By High Error Rate, Not Only Processing Speed

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON — VA’s goal within two years is to have a claims-adjudication system that gets a first-time claim decision to a veteran within 125 days with 98% accuracy. The agency has a long way to go. It… Read More

Women Closer to Front Lines, Medical Positions Affected

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — Women already are fulfilling critical roles in the U.S. military, and new changes to DoD rules will allow women to officially serve even closer to the front lines in a variety of occupations, including medical… Read More

There is only one thing people like that is good for them – A good night’s sleep

“There is only one thing people like that is good for them; a good night’s sleep.” – Edgar Watson Howe (1853 – 1937) Editor-In-Chief, Chester “Trip” Buckenmaier III, MD, COL, MC, USA E.W. Howe was wise well beyond his time.… Read More

VA Patients More Likely to Suffer Sleep Apnea, Have More Treatment Options

By Annette M. Boyle Because of their unique demographics, VA patients are four to five times more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than the general population. They also have more options for treatment. Dawn M. Bravata, M.D. Veterans now… Read More

Promising Therapies Available for Sleep Disorders Frequently Related to PTSD and TBI

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — Disturbed sleep is a common complaint for patients with PTSD and TBI, but military clinicians have some new tools to help treat the issue, according to experts. “Sleep problems are common symptoms of both physical-… Read More

What’s In a Name? – Name Change Proponents Say Labeling PTSD a ‘Disorder’ Prevents Treatment

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — What’s in a name matters for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to proponents of changing what the condition is called, because the word “disorder” keeps some sufferers from getting the treatment they need. The issue… Read More

VA Study Identifies Factors In Veterans’ Weight Changes

While active-duty military personnel are less likely to be overweight or obese compared with civilians of similar ages, that benefit does not always persist after servicemembers become veterans. A new study from the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and… Read More

Lack of Documented Nurse Competency Could Put VA Patients at Risk

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON — Gaps in VA’s nurse-competency practices might be putting patients at risk, according to an investigation by VA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The report found that nurses went years without being assessed for their… Read More

VA Spared from Automatic Budget Cuts – Sequestration Still Threatens DoD

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — While Congress has yet to agree on a way forward to avoid a series of automatic federal budget cuts slated to go into effect in 2013, the Obama administration has made it clear that VA… Read More

Durham VA Seeks to Improve Labeling of Investigational Drugs to Improve Safety

DURHAM, NC — Research into investigational drugs focuses on clinical safety and effectiveness after use and must assume that the correct drug was administered in the correct dose. Inadequate or confusing labeling and packaging sometimes can make that difficult, however.… Read More

VA Dietitian Appeals to Employees’ Stomachs to Improve Their Health Status

By Steve Lewis MILWAUKEE — Kayleen M. Wichlinski, RD, CD, is trying to improve the health of the hearts and minds of VA employees — through their stomachs. “I knew that going into the military was not for me, but… Read More

Soldier’s Death from Rabies Underscores Infection Danger Overseas

For the first time in nearly 40 years, a U.S. servicemember died last year from rabies because of an overseas exposure to an infected dog, according to the national Centers for Disease Control, which emphasized that overseas travelers, including deployed… Read More

VA Seeks Increased Mental-Health Staff to Respond to Growing Needs Among Veterans

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON —VA’s announcement that 1,900 mental-health staff will be added to its roster is more reactive than proactive, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki told legislators at a recent hearing.   “A certain number of folks walk in the… Read More

Appeals Court Finds Lack of Jurisdiction in Mental-Health Lawsuit Against VA

By Brenda L. Mooney SAN FRANCISCO — The full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that it lacks jurisdiction to overhaul VA’s mental-health system, as requested in a class-action suit claiming that VA does not provide mental healthcare… Read More

Military’s Dengue Vaccine Candidate in Phase I Human Testing

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — A human clinical trial this year for a vaccine designed to protect against all four serotypes of the dengue virus is giving military researchers hope that they are closer to developing a vaccine against the… Read More