Agencies

High Cost of Paperless Benefits System Questioned

High Cost of Paperless Benefits System Questioned

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) officials recently defended cost increases related to development of the paperless claims processing system Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS). “Scope and cost increases were planned, essential and approved to move beyond… Read More

Senators Emphasize Priorities for VA IG Nominee

Senators Emphasize Priorities for VA IG Nominee

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — Michael Missal told lawmakers that, if he becomes the next VA Inspector General, one of his goals will be to work “to promote an improved environment” for whistleblowers. “I will also take the necessary steps… Read More

VA, DoD Adopting Earlier HIV Treatment to Dramatically Reduce AIDS Risk

VA, DoD Adopting Earlier HIV Treatment to Dramatically Reduce AIDS Risk

Pre-infection Immunological Health Achieved in Some Cases By Annette M. Boyle SAN ANTONIO — For years, clinicians have not recommended treating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) patients with antiretroviral therapy (ART) before they saw a significant drop in T-cell levels. Starting… Read More

Hospitals’ Routine Use of PPIs Increases Risk of Inpatient Pneumonia, C. Diff

Hospitals’ Routine Use of PPIs Increases Risk of Inpatient Pneumonia, C. Diff

VA Researchers Recommend Against the Practice in Most Cases By Brenda L. Mooney ANN ARBOR, MI — In a case where the preventive measure might be worse than the avoided outcome, hospitals at the VHA and elsewhere often routinely provide… Read More

GAO Report Urges Clarification on VHA, DoD Drug Transition Policy

GAO Report Urges Clarification on VHA, DoD Drug Transition Policy

Last year, a new policy instructed VHA providers not to discontinue mental health medications initiated by DoD providers due to formulary differences.

Barriers to Study, Use of Marijuana for Epilepsy Treatment Continue to Fall

Barriers to Study, Use of Marijuana for Epilepsy Treatment Continue to Fall

In the last few months, several federal agencies and Congress have taken steps to eliminate obstacles to the study and potential use of marijuana for veterans with epilepsy and other conditions.

Guidelines Offer No Set Recommendations for How to Deal with First Seizures

Guidelines Offer No Set Recommendations for How to Deal with First Seizures

While veterans and servicemembers who have experienced a single unprovoked seizure and the clinicians who treat them would like clear, consistent next steps, new guidelines take them into solidly gray areas.

About 15,000 Vets Eligible for Camp Lejeune Benefits

About 15,000 Vets Eligible for Camp Lejeune Benefits

‘Presumptive’ Process Expected to Take a Year By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — About 15,000 veterans would be eligible for expanded disability compensation because of exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, NC, between August 1953 and December of 1987, change… Read More

MRI Study Finds ‘Brain Scars’ in Troops With Blast-Related mTBI

MRI Study Finds ‘Brain Scars’ in Troops With Blast-Related mTBI

“Brain scars” were detected in more than half of the active-duty servicemembers who underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

What Factors Increase Post-Surgical C. Diff Risk at VHA?

New Research Uncovers Some Clues to Aid Prevention By Brenda L. Mooney WASHINGTON — As the VHA works to reduce the overall post-operative rate of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), important new research has uncovered some clues to the circumstances that… Read More

Air Evacuation Could Worsen Condition of Brain-Injured Servicemembers

Air Evacuation Could Worsen Condition of Brain-Injured Servicemembers

U.S. warfighters injured in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan had a 90% or more rate of survival, with a substantial part of that success attributed to medical evacuation teams that swiftly flew wounded servicemembers to locations such as Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany or to Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas.

VA CABG Patients Increasingly Older, Sicker

Over a 14-year period, VA patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) were progressively older and sicker, with an increasing prevalence of obesity, diabetes, left main coronary artery disease and advanced heart failure, according to a new study.

Agent Orange Exposure Linked to Multiple Myeloma Precursor

NEW YORK — U.S. Air Force personnel who conducted aerial herbicide spray missions of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War had more than double the risk of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), according to a recent report. MGUS is… Read More

Rates of BRCA Testing for Veterans Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

In 2012, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), an alliance of leading cancer care centers, recommended that women with breast cancer be offered BRCA1/BRCA2 testing if they were 45 or younger or 50 or younger with a family history or an additional primary case.

Healthcare Advocates Argue for More Unified Military Medical Command

Healthcare Advocates Argue for More Unified Military Medical Command

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — Healthcare advocates weighed in on the controversy over governance of military medicine, arguing for a unified command in which all the medical assets of the three services are under a single authority. “We fight wars… Read More

VA Revises Veterans Choice Program to Improve Access

Rules for veterans receiving non-VA care through the Veterans Choice Program (VCP) were relaxed recently, and, while some members of Congress applauded the changes, others argued VA still had not done enough to repair the troubled program.

Changes in Veterans Choice Program

Under the old policy, a veteran was eligible for the Veterans Choice Program if he or she met the following criteria.

Veterans with Schizophrenia, Other Serious Mental Illness Less Likely to Have Surgery

Veterans with Schizophrenia, Other Serious Mental Illness Less Likely to Have Surgery

For veterans with serious mental illness, high rates of multiple comorbidities and poor care would seem to create situations that increase the need for surgery, but a recent study indicates that these veterans are significantly less likely to have surgery than their peers without serious mental illness.

Pharmacist Calls to Cognitively Impaired Veterans Lowers Readmissions

Pharmacist Calls to Cognitively Impaired Veterans Lowers Readmissions

By Annette M. Boyle BOSTON — For many older veterans, the transition from hospital to home can create confusion about which medications to take when. For veterans with cognitive impairment, the challenge increases — and so does the risk of… Read More

Retiring CIO Changed 'Do Your Own Thing' Mindset of Military Medicine

Retiring CIO Changed ‘Do Your Own Thing’ Mindset of Military Medicine

When David Bowen arrived as chief information officer of the Military Health System (MHS), he was challenged with assisting to consolidate the armed services’ medical organizations into a single agency.