September 2013

A leader…must have the determination to stick with it

“A leader, once convinced a particular course of action is the right one, must have the determination to stick with it and be undaunted when the going gets tough.” Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) Anyone who has followed this column over the… Read More

Outcomes Improved When VA Physicians Took Veterans’ Individual Challenges Into Consideration

By Brenda L. Mooney Saul J. Weiner MD CHICAGO — Health outcomes improved when VA physicians took patients’ individual situations into account and customized care, according to a new study. The study conducted by researchers from the Jesse Brown and… Read More

Simulation Training Duplicates Experience of Shipboard Trauma Care

SAN DIEGO — When a servicemember experiences physical trauma during deployment, it’s usually during circumstances that are loud, chaotic and happening at a speed too quickly to be followed by the untrained eye. The same is true of treating trauma… Read More

CPAP Shows Promise for Ending Disrupted Sleep/Nightmare Cycle in PTSD

By Brenda L. Mooney JACKSON, MS – For veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), disrupted sleep and nightmares can be a vicious cycle — one feeding the other. Now, new research in the relationship between PTSD and disordered sleep… Read More

Too Little Sleep Raises Women’s Risk of Coronary Events

SAN FRANCISCO – Too little sleep, especially early awakening, plays a significant role in raising unhealthy levels of inflammation among women with coronary heart disease, according to a new study. Interestingly, the elevated inflammation affected only women, not men, even… Read More

Increase in Brain Cells with Histamine Linked to Narcolepsy

MISSION HILLS, CA — An excess of a certain type of brain cell, those containing histamine, may be the cause of the loss of hypocretin cells which has been found in narcolepsy patients, according to a new study. Previous studies… Read More

Some PTSD Sleep Medications Intensify Negative Memories

RIVERSIDE, CA – A new study could have significant implications for servicemembers suffering from insomnia related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sleep researchers from University of California campuses in Riverside and San Diego found that a widely prescribed prescription sleep… Read More

Differences in Prostate Cancer Treatment Outcomes Diminish Over Time

NASHVILLE, TN – Outcomes between treating prostate cancer with surgery compared to radiation no longer were significant after 15 years of initial treatment, according to a new study. A recent report of a study comparing outcomes among prostate cancer patients… Read More

Agent Orange Increases Lethal Prostate Cancer Risk

PORTLAND, OR – Exposure to Agent Orange doesn’t increase the risk of all types of prostate cancer among veterans exposed to the chemicals during the Vietnam era, only making more likely that patients will develop the more lethal form of… Read More

Watchful Waiting for Prostate Cancer Increases Only at VA

SAN DIEGO, CA – While the use of expectant management (EM) as a treatment course for prostate cancer did not increase in the United States overall in the last decade, active surveillance – also known as “watchful waiting” – went… Read More

‘Powerful’ Testimony by Military Sexual Trauma Victims Spotlights VA Care Gaps

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – In testimony called “devastating” by the subcommittee chairman, a panel of military sexual assault survivors appealed for better care and treatment for military sexual trauma (MST) survivors at a recent congressional hearing. “Right now, at… Read More

Increasing Military Suicide Rates Unrelated to Deployment, Combat

By Brenda L. Mooney Cynthia A. Leardman, MPH SAN DIEGO, CA – Despite common misconceptions, increasing suicides by military servicemembers do not appear to be related to combat experience or deployment – or even multiple deployments, according to a new… Read More

DoD Furloughs Reduced This Year, but Sequestration Remains a Future Threat

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – In welcome news for DoD’s civilian employees, including medical personnel, the number of furlough days was reduced from 11 to six this year. That effectively ended the furlough period last month for most employees. The… Read More

Obama Calls VA Claims Backlog ‘Unacceptable,’ Says Waits Are Improving

By Sandra Basu ORLANDO, FL – Amid months of criticism of his administration’s handling of the VA disability claims backlog, President Barack Obama directly addressed the issue here last month, telling veterans that the longer waits are “unacceptable.” “Part of… Read More

Death at Bronx VAMC Leads to Nationwide Recall of Nuclear Medicine Equipment

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – An investigation is ongoing “to determine a definitive cause” of an accident in which a veteran died from injuries sustained when a portion of a nuclear medicine system fell during a scan, according to the… Read More

Sodium Channels Offer Path to Personalized Pain Management

By Annette M. Boyle Steven Waxman, MD NEW HAVEN, CT — Researchers at the West Haven VAMC and Yale University are moving closer to a new class of pain medications devoid of side effects and may have uncovered a critical… Read More

Careful Patient Management Essential for Mitigating Opioid Side Effects

By Annette M. Boyle Rollin M. “Mac” Gallagher, MD, MPH PHILADELPHIA – More than 50% of all VHA patients and more than 90% of those with polytrauma report experiencing chronic pain and, for many, only opioids provide significant relief. Unfortunately,… Read More

Use of VA Telehealth Soars as Focus Moves Beyond Veterans in Remote Areas

By Stephen Spotswood Dr. Robert Petzel, VA Under Secretary for Health WASHINGTON – In recent years, VA’s efforts in telemedicine increasingly have garnered attention from outside the agency. Recently, VA was named to the 2013 “Most Wired” hospitals list, released… Read More

Honored PA Seeks to Help Other Former Military Medics Enter the Profession

By Steve Lewis Russell R. Callender, chief physician assistant at the Michael E. DeBakey VAMC Center in Houston HOUSTON — Russell R. Callender, chief physician assistant at the Michael E. DeBakey VAMC Center in Houston recently was awarded the 2013… Read More

Veterans’ Study: Many Cancers, Chemotherapy Reduce Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

By Annette M. Boyle Jane A. Driver, MD, MPH BOSTON – A study involving more than three million veterans has found an intriguing inverse relationship between two dreaded diseases: cancer and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). New research from the Boston VAMC… Read More