December 2013

A day without sunshine is like, you know, night

“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.” — Steve Martin I grew up laughing at Steve Martin, arrow-through-the-head gag, King Tut and all. I do not suppose Mr. Martin had any deeper goals with this statement beyond the… Read More

Bill Seeks to Expand VA Dental Coverage; Links to Overall Health Cited

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — With research increasingly demonstrating a link between poor oral health and cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other conditions, fewer than half of the veterans receiving VA healthcare services also are eligible to receive dental services, according… Read More

VA Defends New Conference Policy at Congressional Rehash of Excessive Spending

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — With a new congressional report detailing additional excesses in the VA’s past conference spending, agency officials defended efforts to eliminate those issues and put in tight financial controls. “I have seen the policies put into… Read More

Pointing to Misuse, House Passes Bill Trimming Funds for VA Merit Bonuses

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — Noting that the VA has awarded merit-based bonuses to managers of facilities with substandard care and poor management practices, a bill passed by the House of Representatives last month reduces the amount of money that… Read More

Testosterone Therapy Increased Cardiac Events in Veterans after Angiography

By Brenda L. Mooney P. Michael Ho, MD, PhD DALLAS — When considering prescribing androgen deficiency treatment, VA physicians should take into consideration a new study finding that testosterone replacement therapy increased risks of death, heart attack or ischemic stroke… Read More

Army Rolls Out Major Upgrade of Electronic Health Record System

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON — This month the Army will begin rolling out a major upgrade to its electronic health record system — the Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care (MC4) system. The rollout will continue through April 2014 with… Read More

Universal Screening Key to Continued MRSA Rate Decline at VAMCs

By Brenda L. Mooney LEXINGTON, KY —  The VA requirement to obtain nasal surveillance swabs on all patients at hospital admission, unit-to-unit transfer and discharge appears to be a key component of the continued decline in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)… Read More

Ethics Abandoned? Task Force Member Says Not Anymore

By Annette M. Boyle NEW YORK — A controversial report about medical ethics violations at Guantanamo Bay and Central Intelligence Agency secret prisons has gotten wide play in the general media, but at least one member of the task force… Read More

Gout Inflammation Associated with Metabolic Issues

HOUSTON — Comorbidity factors including hyperlipidemia, hypertension and diabetes are significantly associated with the inflammatory cells in gout tissues, according to a study from the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center and other medical institutions in Houston. According to background… Read More

Hyperuricemia Ups Diabetes Risk in Veterans with Gout

STANFORD, CA — Among veterans with gout, hyperuricemia was associated with excess risk for developing diabetes, according to a Stanford University-led study using records from the VA’s South Central region. In fact, according to the report published earlier this year… Read More

High Serum Rate Levels Raise Kidney Disease Risk in Gout

RIDGELAND, MS — Higher serum rate levels (sUA) are associated with an increased risk of incident kidney disease among veterans with gouty arthritis, according to a study based on records from a database at the VA’s VISN 16. The study,… Read More

Few HIV Patients at VA Reduce Risks by Achieving Undetectable Viral Loads

By Annette M. Boyle Jeffery McCombs, PhD LOS ANGELES — While achieving undetectable viral loads reduces the risk of death associated with hepatitis C by 45% and other adverse liver-related complications by 27%, only 4% of eligible patients in a… Read More

VA Clinicians Optimistic about Effectiveness of New HCV Drugs

By Annette M. Boyle David Ross, MD, PhD WASHINGTON — New therapies for hepatitis C (HCV) are pouring out of the pharmaceutical pipeline and promising effective treatment with fewer side effects for many of the 170,000 veterans with chronic HCV… Read More

With HIV Treated as Chronic Disease, Adherence Challenges Develop

By Annette M. Boyle Amy Justice, MD, Ph.D NEW HAVEN, CT — With human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) now being treated more like diabetes, hypertension and other chronic diseases, HIV patients face some of the same issues as other veterans dealing… Read More

Court Strongly Condemns Feres Doctrine in Case Involving Newborn’s Death

By Brenda L. Mooney SAN FRANCISCO — A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court opinion that a case involving a newborn’s death cannot go forward because of the Feres doctrine but said it… Read More

New Discoveries Could Broaden Topical Antihistamine Use

SAN FRANCISCO – New discoveries could change the way antihistamines are used from a predominantly systemic to a topical approach, according to an article from the San Francisco VAMC and the University of California in San Francisco. The report, published… Read More

Melanoma Increasing; Detection, Prevention Needed

HARTFORD, CT – Melanoma is on the increase, and more needs to be done to promote prevention and early-detection of the sometimes deadly disease, according to a new study. The authors pointed out that melanoma is the most commonly fatal… Read More

Web-Based Course Failed to Change PCP Melanoma Detection

PROVIDENCE, RI – Can a Web-based learning program be an effective way to improve melanoma detection by primary care physicians (PCPs)? That is a question raised by a recent study from the Providence, RI, VAMC and Brown University. Background in… Read More

Warrior Transition Units Go Beyond Physical Recovery for Wounded Soldiers

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — For Capt. Edward “Flip” Klein, Oct. 22, 2012, was a life-changing moment. Deployed in Afghanistan, he was struck by a roadside bomb that resulted in the loss of both of his legs above the knee,… Read More

AMSUS Members Donate Lodging to Wounded Warriors

WASHINGTON – Thanks to donations since February by members of a nonprofit organization representing federal health professionals, wounded warriors and their families have access to another 105 nights of free lodging. Inspired by Rep. Charles Albert “Dutch” Ruppersberger, (D-MD) discussion… Read More