Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA’s Fails to Follow Own Requirements for New Hire Drug Testing

VA’s Fails to Follow Own Requirements for New Hire Drug Testing

WASHINGTON — VA is “committed to 100% testing of all final selectees” for its safety-sensitive occupations prior to their appointment, lawmakers were told recently.

VA Research: Vancomycin Lowers Death Rates in Severe C. Diff Infection

VA Research: Vancomycin Lowers Death Rates in Severe C. Diff Infection

SALT LAKE CITY — Severe illness caused by the bacteria Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is now the most common hospital-acquired infection in the United States. A new VA-led study suggests, however, that it is not always being treated appropriately.

VA Extends Mental Healthcare to Veterans Not Honorably Discharged

VA Extends Mental Healthcare to Veterans Not Honorably Discharged

WASHINGTON — In his first appearance before Congress as VA Secretary, David Shulkin, MD, said that “there is no other clinical issue” that concerns him as much as veteran suicides.

Most Post-9/11 Veterans Report Doing Well at Work and at Home

Most Post-9/11 Veterans Report Doing Well at Work and at Home

BOSTON – The overwhelming majority of veterans of U.S. conflicts since the terrorist attack on 9/11/2001 are nothing like the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-addled, homeless opioid-addicts too often depicted in the media and in political campaigns.

VA Pharmacist-Led Diabetes Clinic Improves Glycemic Control, Reduces Costs

VA Pharmacist-Led Diabetes Clinic Improves Glycemic Control, Reduces Costs

SAN DIEGO — Many veterans drift for years with out-of-control diabetes, despite regular visits with their primary care physician and prescriptions for anti-glycemic agents.

Pain Continuity, Not Headache Type, Affects Return to Duty

FORT BRAGG, NC — Headaches and how to manage the pain are difficult issues for soldiers who suffered mild traumatic brain injury during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and their care providers.

Why Opioids Are Discontinued in VHA Patients

PORTLAND, OR—Discontinuation of opioids can be accelerated for several reasons, according to a new study, including lack of information about the long-term effectiveness of opioids for chronic pain, heightened awareness about opioid-related adverse events, closer monitoring of patients for opioid-related aberrant behaviors, and greater restrictions around opioid prescribing.

Opioid Use Generally Moderate in OEF, OIF, OND Veterans

LITTLE ROCK, AR — With continuing concern about opioid use in veterans, especially those serving in Afghanistan (OEF) and Iraq (OIF and OND), a new study provided a detailed analysis of the issue.

VA Researchers Show How Imatinib Improves Prognosis for Hard-to-Treat Cancer

VA Researchers Show How Imatinib Improves Prognosis for Hard-to-Treat Cancer

PORTLAND, OR — Not long ago, less than a third of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients survived five years and gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) patients had an even shorter life expectancy, according to the National Cancer Institute. Now significant numbers of patients with these cancers live for another 10 years after diagnosis.

System to Smooth Out VBA Claims Backlog Creates Other Issues

System to Smooth Out VBA Claims Backlog Creates Other Issues

WASHINGTON — Implementation of a new process to distribute disability claims to offices with capacity to process them will benefit veterans, Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) told lawmakers in an effort to reassure them.

PTSD Impairs Blood Vessel Function, Increases Cardiovascular Disease Risks

PTSD Impairs Blood Vessel Function, Increases Cardiovascular Disease Risks

SAN FRANCISCO — The relationship between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and elevated risk for cardiovascular disease and mortality has been well documented in recent years. How PTSD specifically affects heart health, however, has been less clear.

Few Veterans with Heart Failure Participate in Cardiac Rehabilitation

Few Veterans with Heart Failure Participate in Cardiac Rehabilitation

SAN FRANCISCO—Despite evidence that cardiac rehabilitation reduces morbidity and mortality, few patients with heart failure undertake it, including veterans who often have difficulty accessing center-based programs.

Alcohol Abuse, PTSD Can Be Treated Simultaneously

DURHAM, NC — Many servicemembers and veterans seeking treatment for alcohol problems have experienced the life-threatening stress of combat, many have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and many servicemembers and veterans seeking treatment for PTSD also have alcohol or other substance problems.

New Soldiers’ Alcohol Abuse Linked to Mental Disorders

LA JOLLA, CA— Problem drinking that predates enlistment into military service might be a contributor to the overall burden of alcohol misuse and mental disorders in the U.S. Armed Forces, but evidence remains somewhat limited.

Bill Gives VA Secretary New Powers to Fire, Demote, Suspend Employees

Bill Gives VA Secretary New Powers to Fire, Demote, Suspend Employees

WASHINGTON—A bill that would provide the VA Secretary with enhanced authority to remove, demote, or suspend any VA employee, including senior executive service employees, for performance or misconduct is making its way through Congress.

VA Might Yet Move to Commercial EHR System

VA Might Yet Move to Commercial EHR System

After years of working to modernize its electronic health record internally, a senior IT official indicated last month that a shift to a commercial EHR is the likely path forward for VA.

Opioid Safety Initiative Drives Down Prescriptions for High-Dose Painkillers

Opioid Safety Initiative Drives Down Prescriptions for High-Dose Painkillers

Thanks to a national initiative begun at the VHA in 2013, fewer veterans are receiving prescriptions for risky dosages of opioid painkillers.

How Low To Go: The Continuing Controversy on BP Targets

How Low To Go: The Continuing Controversy on BP Targets

After the release of the SPRINT research in 2015, the question about treating hypertension in older adults appeared to be, “How low can you go?”

Shulkin Sails Through Senate on Promise of VA Changes

Shulkin Sails Through Senate on Promise of VA Changes

David J. Shulkin, MD, stepped into the role of VA secretary last month after receiving unanimous support from the U.S. Senate.

Guideline-Discordant Imaging In Prostate Cancer

About half of veterans with low-risk prostate cancer receive imaging not called for in clinical guidelines, according to a new study.

Brachytherapy Usage Decreases in Prostate Cancer

While several prior studies have suggested that brachytherapy utilization has significantly decreased as intensity modulated radiation therapy usage has increased, a group of VA researchers sought to investigate brachytherapy utilization in a large, hospital-based registry.

Obesity Linked to Higher PC Mortality

While, at the population level, obesity is associated with prostate cancer (PC) mortality, little information is available on how obesity affects long-term PC-specific outcomes after initial treatment, according to a study in the journal Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases.