Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Contracted Program for Timely VA Healthcare Also Plagued by Delays

Contracted Program for Timely VA Healthcare Also Plagued by Delays

A program designed to provide timely healthcare to veterans outside of VA is itself hampered by delays in care, according to a new report from the VA Office of Inspector General.

Faced with Shortfall, VA Gets Flexibility to Pay for HCV, Outside Care

Faced with Shortfall, VA Gets Flexibility to Pay for HCV, Outside Care

After VA officials warned that hospital shutdowns or staff furloughs might be necessary without more budgetary flexibility, lawmakers rushed through legislation to ensure that would not occur.

VA/DoD Recommend More Moderate Approach to Treating High Cholesterol

VA/DoD Recommend More Moderate Approach to Treating High Cholesterol

New Guidelines Significantly Different from AHA/ACC Document

Bills Propose More Leeway to Discipline VA Staff

Bills Propose More Leeway to Discipline VA Staff

Healthcare Employees Targeted in Some Versions By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — A bill recently passed by the House of Representatives would make it easier for VA to demote or fire employees beyond the senior executive service (SES) level, including healthcare… Read More

Caution Urged in Prescribing Benzodiazepines to Veterans Using Opioids

Caution Urged in Prescribing Benzodiazepines to Veterans Using Opioids

Researchers are urging VA clinicians to be cautious about prescribing benzodiazepines to veterans already taking opioid painkillers.

That’s in light of a new study, published online recently by the British Medical Journal, finding that nearly half of all veterans who died from drug overdoses while on opioids were also receiving higher doses of benzodiazepines, often used for anxiety, insomnia or alcohol withdrawal.

VA Expands Initiatives to Prevent Multi-Drug Resistant Organism Infection

VA Expands Initiatives to Prevent Multi-Drug Resistant Organism Infection

The VA’s methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) prevention initiative reduced healthcare-associated MRSA infections 69% in VA acute care facilities and 81% in spinal cord injury units in five years. The VA hopes to see similar success in preventing infections with Clostridium difficile (CDI) and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) — and the MRSA bundle itself may help them do that.

Medication, Surgery Combat Biological Changes Associated with Obesity

Medication, Surgery Combat Biological Changes Associated with Obesity

Overweight and Sustained Obesity Require Different Approaches By Annette M. Boyle PROVIDENCE, RI — Eat less, move more has long been the mantra for weight loss. But new research indicates the mainstays of diet and exercise simply aren’t enough for… Read More

A Call to Arms for CME

Today’s federal healthcare system faces unprecedented challenges related not only to active-duty military returning home with complex healthcare needs due to injury, but also with the long-term care of veterans’ clinical needs through the VA.

David Shulkin, MD, Confirmed as New VA  Under Secretary for of Health

David Shulkin, MD, Confirmed as New VA Under Secretary for of Health

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — The VA is set to welcome a new leader to the Veterans Health Administration. David Shulkin, MD, became the new VA undersecretary of health after the Senate confirmed his nomination by voice vote late last… Read More

Vendors: VA Payment to Outside Providers Increasingly Delayed

Vendors: VA Payment to Outside Providers Increasingly Delayed

Veterans’ Credit Ratings Could Be Jeopardized By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — The VA is taking too long to reimburse non-VA healthcare providers, a problem that could result in veterans being billed for the services, panelists told a House of Representatives… Read More

VA’s Prescription Management Practices Come Under Fire From Legislators

VA’s Prescription Management Practices Come Under Fire From Legislators

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — Lawmakers charged that the VA is not doing enough to ensure that medication use is properly managed among veterans — particularly those already struggling with mental health issues. VA officials were questioned on prescription mismanagement… Read More

Staff Shortages Prevent Full Implementation of VA Stroke Directive

Staff Shortages Prevent Full Implementation of VA Stroke Directive

Effort Seeks to Standardize Care Across VAMCs By Annette M. Boyle INDIANAPOLIS — Since the publication of the VHA directive on treatment of acute ischemic stroke (AIS) in November 2011, VA medical facilities nationwide have responded by adding structure to… Read More

Army Polypharmacy Program Posts Outstanding Return on Investment

Army Polypharmacy Program Posts Outstanding Return on Investment

Clinical Pharmacists Help Optimize Medication Use By Annette M. Boyle HONOLULU — A pilot program at Tripler Army Medical Center that manages patients taking multiple drugs appears poised to post a financial return on investment of 5:1. As a result,… Read More

Some Non-Federal Physicians Express Discomfort Treating Veterans

Some Non-Federal Physicians Express Discomfort Treating Veterans

By Brenda L. Mooney ATHENS, OH — The push to allow veterans more access to non-VA care — or even to bifurcate the system, as some have suggested, so that specific types of care always are provided by private-sector clinicians… Read More

Senators: VA Insufficiently Responsive to Oversight Recommendations

Senators: VA Insufficiently Responsive to Oversight Recommendations

Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) put the VA on its “high risk” list for the first time, noting that the agency needs oversight to make sure “its resources are being used in a cost-effective manner to improve veterans’ timely access to healthcare.”

VA Lags on Women’s Health; No Gynecologists at Some VAMCs

VA Lags on Women’s Health; No Gynecologists at Some VAMCs

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — With 29% more women accessing VA healthcare in the past three years, the agency has a way to go to make sure it meets the needs of female veterans, advocates testified at recent congressional hearings.… Read More

Subdural Hemorrhage Predicted to Increase More Than 50% in VA Patients

By Brenda L. Mooney NEW YORK — Over the next 15 years, chronic subdural hemorrhage (SDH) will become the most common adult brain condition requiring neurosurgical intervention in the United States, but healthcare systems may not be prepared to care… Read More

Heart Failure Is Latest Serious Health Condition Linked to PTSD

Chronic Conditions Also Associated With Past Combat Experience Annette M. Boyle MINNEAPOLIS — Serious health conditions linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continue to mount. Researchers recently uncovered a significant link between the condition and the risk of developing heart… Read More

Pillbox Program Helps Improve Adherence for Hypertensive Patients

Annette M. Boyle ASHEVILLE, NC — Screening, frequent appointments and other interventions enabled the VA by 2010 to bring blood pressure under control in more than three-quarters of patients with hypertension. Helping the remaining one-quarter adhere to medication regimens to… Read More

VA Tops in Experience With Rare Lymphomas, Looks for More Effective Treatments

VA Tops in Experience With Rare Lymphomas, Looks for More Effective Treatments

As the healthcare system with the most experience treating older men, the VA has special expertise in treating uncommon diseases that plague them, such as peripheral T-cell lymphoma. The current challenge for clinicians is to find ways to raise the… Read More