October 2013

The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do

“The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.”  General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. (1934-2012) Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho recently announced implementation of the Performance… Read More

Bladder Cancer Unexpectedly High in LUTS Minus Hematuria

ATLANTA — Bladder cancer occurs more often than previously expected in patients presenting solely with lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) but without hematuria, according to a presentation at the 2013 meeting of the American Urological Association.1 Researchers from Emory University… Read More

Medication Use Increases in VA LUTS/BPH Patients

IOWA CITY, IA — The proportion of men who were prescribed pharmacotherapy within 90 days of diagnosis of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and related benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) at the VA increased from 32.2% in 2003-2004 to 44.8% in… Read More

PTSD Linked to Greater Risk of Autoimmune Disorders

SAN FRANCISCO — Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) creates greater vulnerability to developing autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, according to University of California, San Francisco, researchers. The research was presented last year at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) Annual… Read More

Regular Alcohol Use Leads to Faster Rate of RA Joint Damage

OMAHA, NE — A dose-dependent relationship exists between alcohol use and radiographic disease progression in rheumatoid arthritis, according to a study led by researchers from the Omaha, NE, VAMC and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The research, which sought… Read More

Less-Expensive RA Drugs Can Be As Effective As Costlier Ones

OMAHA, NE — Less-expensive combination disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) produced the same clinical benefits as much costlier biological treatment, according to a large VA study comparing the effectiveness of drug therapies for rheumatoid arthritis. Results of the 48-week study, which… Read More

Higher Risk of Brain Lesions For High-Altitude AF Pilots

By Brenda L. Mooney SAN ANTONIO — High-flying U-2 pilots may be paying a neurological price for their service. The elite Air Force pilots flying at high altitudes increase their risks for developing brain lesions, according to a new study,… Read More

VA Researchers Identify Biomarkers for Possible ‘Suicidality Blood Test’

By Brenda L. Mooney INDIANAPOLIS, IN — What if it were possible to identify veterans at risk for suicide through a simple blood test? Research from the Richard L. Roudebush VAMC in Indianapolis and Indiana University School of Medicine suggests… Read More

Congress: Why Did Leaders Get Bonuses at VAMCs with Safety Issues?

By Sandra Basu PITTSBURGH — In the wake of emotional testimony given by family members seeking accountability for patient fatalities at VAMCs, lawmakers sharply questioned VHA officials about performance bonuses for leaders in the facilities where the deaths occurred. “I… Read More

Providing Quality End-of-Life Care for Veterans Is Personal Mission for Director

Scott T. Shreve, DO By Steve Lewis LEBANON, PA — Scott T. Shreve, DO, National Director, VA Hospice and Palliative Care, takes providing high quality end-of-life care for veterans personally. He recounts how he was at the bedside when his… Read More

Colorectal Cancer Procedure Wait Times: Deadly Delays or Just Good Medicine?

Martin D. McCarter, MD By Annette M. Boyle DENVER — Are increased wait times at the VA for colorectal cancer procedures because patients are receiving more appropriate care, or are they simply dangerous delays that could be deadly for some… Read More

Atlanta VAMC Resolving Issues that Led to Deaths of Mental Health Patients

By Annette M. Boyle ATLANTA — The management breakdowns blamed by the VA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the deaths of three mental health patients at the Atlanta VAMC are being resolved, agency leadership testified at a Senate… Read More

‘Fully Developed Claims’ for Disability Move More Quickly Through Process

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — An initiative called the Fully Developed Claim Program is “essential” to VA’s goal of completing claims within 125 days at 98% accuracy in 2015, a VA official told a House subcommittee. “VA is aggressively pursuing… Read More

Former VA Chief: Refocus Disability Benefits to Prevent Backlogs

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — With the uproar over VA’s disability claims backlog, a former VA secretary is calmly asking a vital question: What can be done to prevent future veterans, especially those with wounds and injuries, from getting caught… Read More

Fast-Tracking VA Liver Cancer Patients: Interarterial Therapy Up Tenfold in Chicago

Ramona Gupta, MD By Annette M. Boyle CHICAGO — At the Jesse Brown VAMC in Chicago, a multidisciplinary team approach to evaluating and treating veterans with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has reduced wait times for treatment and dramatically improved care to… Read More

Closed System Transfer Device Reduces Chemotherapy Drug Waste

Michael S. Edwards, PharmD By Annette M. Boyle BETHESDA, MD — With increasing shortages of critical chemotherapy drugs – and the funds to buy them – VA pharmacists are constantly looking for ways to enable the medications and money to… Read More

Questions Raised about Mental Health Status, Treatment of Navy Yard Shooter

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – What role did mental health issues play in the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard that resulted in 12 deaths? How did the killer come to have a government security clearance in the first place?… Read More

Furlough Concerns May Have Pushed Out Some DoD Medical Employees

DoD Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller) Robert F. Hale at budget hearings WASHINGTON – DoD officials warned that recent furloughs and the ongoing continuing budgetary strains are a threat to the military’s civilian workforce and that some employees may be seeking… Read More