March 2012

DoD Launches Database for Personnel in Japan During 2011 Earthquake Nuclear Meltdowns

By Stephen Spotswood NATIONAL HARBOR, MD — A year after a massive earthquake occurred off the coast of Japan, resulting in a large tsunami that caused nuclear-plant meltdowns, the U.S. military is creating a database to help track possible radiation… Read More

Perennial Issue of Combining Military Medical Services Comes Up Again

Editors Note: Since this story went to press, DoD announced it is recommending a Defense Health Agency be established as part of a new model of governance for the MHS. This option was chosen in favor over a Unified Medical… Read More

Pilot Program at Memphis VA Promises Patients Greater Autonomy after Spinal-Cord Injuries

By Annette M. Boyle MEMPHIS, TN — A pilot program in Memphis is bringing VA closer to meeting what perhaps is the greatest desire for its 42,000 veterans with spinal-cord injuries and disorders: more control of their environment. This month,… Read More

A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business

“A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” – Henry Ford (1863-1947) During the Sundance Film Festival, held in January in Park City, UT, the documentary “Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare” was debuted… Read More

Recent Investigations Question VA’s Paid Fiduciary Program for Disabled Veterans

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON — Recent investigations conducted by oversight committees have revealed serious flaws in VA’s fiduciary system, which, according to legislators and many veterans’ advocates, is plagued by fraud and lack of oversight. The fiduciary system… Read More

Schoomaker Looks Back on Eventful Years as Army Surgeon General

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — When Eric Schoomaker, MD, was named Army surgeon general in 2007, military medicine was facing an administrative and public relations nightmare. Widespread allegations of substandard living conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center… Read More

Mortality Rate Reduced When Patients with Serious Mental Disorders Come Back to VA

By Brenda L. Mooney Tracking down former patients with serious mental illnesses (SMI) such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and bringing them back into the VA healthcare system can save lives, according to a recently published study. In… Read More

DoD Center of Excellence on TBI – Psychological Health Falls Short – GAO Says

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — The DoD organization at the forefront of efforts to improve care for psychological health and traumatic brain injury (TBI) is falling short of its mission, a watchdog agency found. A recent GAO investigation… Read More

Telemental Health Services Benefit Native Veterans

 WASHINGTON — After American Indian and Alaska Native veterans initially tried telemental health services, their use of any health services significantly increased, as did the proportion receiving psychotropic medication, a new study found.1 Telemental Health Services is the provision of… Read More

MHS Faces Belt-Tightening in Obama Administration’s FY 2013 Budget

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — If the Obama Administration has its way, the Military Health System (MHS) will tighten its belt — and its wallet — next fiscal year. Under President Barack Obama’s proposed FY 2013 budget, the DoD Unified… Read More

More Funding Requested for Veteran Healthcare – VA Questioned on Acquisition Tracking

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON — Funding for veteran healthcare continues to increase in the Obama administration’s latest budget proposal, but legislators had some pointed questions about how well VA is tracking its spending for medical supplies and services. The administration’s… Read More

50-Year-Old VA Disability Rating System Just Now Being Fully Revised

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON — For more than 50 years, the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD) has been the mechanism for determining how much disability compensation is provided to veterans. While the system has seen minor adjustments over time,… Read More

Tragic Loss of Child Illustrates Importance of Patient Safety in MHS

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — Army Maj. Kendall Mower expected his wife’s fourth birth to go as smoothly as the births of his three other children. His newborn died shortly after birth, however, as a result of poor patient-safety practices… Read More

Routinely Used Concussion Screen Less Reliable More than 10 Days after Injury

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — A new study suggests the military’s current screening and diagnostic tool for concussion lacks utility when it is used more than 10 days following an injury. “The current study adds to the body of literature… Read More

Life-or-Death Situation VA Seeks Continued Improvement of Non-OR Airway Management

By Brenda L. Mooney On average, more than 30 times a day across the VHA, patients outside the operating room require emergency-airway management. It is literally a life-or-death situation, as failure to establish an airway can result in brain damage… Read More

Harsh Environment in Southwest Asia – Not Just Burn Pits – Cause Health Problems in Troops

By Annette M. Boyle STONY BROOK, NY –While burn pits have been the focus of a controversy for years about causes of high rates of respiratory illnesses among military personnel deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, evidence increasingly paints a more… Read More

Director of Award-Winning Residency Program Driven by Heart of Service

By Steve Lewis JACKSONVILLE, FL— The residency program at the Naval Hospital-Jacksonville was named  Clinical site of the year by the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in 2011, but the program’s director scoffs at taking personal credit. Cmdr.… Read More

Institutional Barriers Seen in VA MOVE Program Rollout

For the past five years, VA has struggled to implement a systemwide weight-reduction program to combat obesity rates among veterans receiving care. More than one-third of veterans receiving care qualified as obese in 2006, and VA believed that lowering obesity… Read More

FDA’s Role in Protecting US Pharmaceutical Jobs Debated in House Subcommittee

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON — What should FDA’s role be in the continuing globalization of the prescription drug market, and should the agency be obligated to consider the health of the American pharmaceutical industry in any decisions it makes? Those… Read More

Human Performance Optimization Used to Prevent Common Injuries in Troops

By Stephen Spotswood NATIONAL HARBOR, MD — The term “human performance optimization” (HPO) emerged from a 2006 DoD quadrennial review which identified a need to promote warrior wellness and apply emerging technologies to human performance. The U.S. was engaged in… Read More