Category: Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Physicians Testify about Harsh Retaliation for Blowing Whistles on Care Issues

VA Physicians Testify about Harsh Retaliation for Blowing Whistles on Care Issues

WASHINGTON – Retaliation against physicians and other employees who voice complaints is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the agency, a senior VA official emphasized to lawmakers at a House hearing last month.

Bereaved Family Members of Suicide Victims Testify about VA Care Lapses

Bereaved Family Members of Suicide Victims Testify about VA Care Lapses

WASHINGTON – A parade of grieving family members testified last month before a House of Representatives committee trying to determine why significant increases in VA’s mental health and suicide prevention resources have not stemmed the tide of suicides

Are VA Benefits Processed More Efficiently? Congress Gets Conflicting Answers

Are VA Benefits Processed More Efficiently? Congress Gets Conflicting Answers

WASHINGTON – The work of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) was vehemently defended before lawmakers last month, with VA Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey testifying that the agency had reduced the claims backlog from a high of more than 600,000 last year to 271,000 as of last month.

Institute of Medicine: DOD, VA Fail at Tracking Outcomes of PTSD Treatments

Institute of Medicine: DOD, VA Fail at Tracking Outcomes of PTSD Treatments

By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON – One of the signature injuries of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), affected 13.5% of soldiers and caused 502,000 veterans to seek treatment in 2012. Despite the ubiquity of the… Read More

Milwaukee VA Develops Reversal Protocol for Novel Oral Anticoagulants

Milwaukee VA Develops Reversal Protocol for Novel Oral Anticoagulants

By Annette M. Boyle MILWAUKEE – Many patients prefer the devil they know. When asked whether they want to go on or switch to a novel oral anticoagulant (NOAC) that requires little monitoring, has few drug-drug or food interactions, appears… Read More

New VA Secretary Robert McDonald Vows to Reform Healthcare Delivery

New VA Secretary Robert McDonald Vows to Reform Healthcare Delivery

WASHINGTON – Robert McDonald, the former Procter & Gamble president and CEO, was ushered in as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs last month with unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate and hopeful optimism from advocacy groups and others.

White House Review Calls for Restructuring of VHA

By Sandra Basu  WASHINGTON – The VHA needs to be “restructured and reformed” according to a scathing White House review released late last month. “The VHA leadership structure is marked by a lack of responsiveness and an inability to effectively… Read More

Abnormal Lung Function in Recent Veterans Raises Respiratory Disease Risks

Abnormal Lung Function in Recent Veterans Raises Respiratory Disease Risks

SAN DIEGO ─ Veterans returning from Iraq/Afghanistan and the Gulf War with pulmonary function abnormalities have a significantly greater risk of developing chronic respiratory disease years later, according to a new study presented at the 2014 American Thoracic Society International Conference in San Diego.

Mostly Preventable Surgical-Site Infections Double VA Treatment Costs

Mostly Preventable Surgical-Site Infections Double VA Treatment Costs

By Brenda L. Mooney IOWA CITY, IA – In addition to increasing mortality and morbidity, surgical-site infections (SSIs) nearly double the cost of treatment of patients at the VA yet usually are preventable with good infection-control practices, according to a… Read More

Corporate Executive Tapped to Head VA, Help Restore Veterans’ Trust

Corporate Executive Tapped to Head VA, Help Restore Veterans’ Trust

WASHINGTON – Robert A. “Bob” McDonald, a West Point graduate who served as chief executive of Procter & Gamble, was nominated last month as secretary of the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs and was expected to be approved by the Senate.

Robotics Help Veterans Relearn Walking Skills After Stroke Damage

Robotics Help Veterans Relearn Walking Skills After Stroke Damage

BALTIMORE – If practice makes perfect, then stroke patients at the VA Maryland Health Care System in Baltimore should have a great boost in relearning the ideal walking gait, with some help from the Anklebot.

VA Treats Schizophrenia More Consistently Than Other Healthcare Systems

VA Treats Schizophrenia More Consistently Than Other Healthcare Systems

By Annette M. Boyle TEMPLE, TX – While taking antipsychotic medication often benefits patients, evidence increasingly challenges the assumption that more is better, even as the rate of prescriptions for multiple antipsychotics continues to rise in the VA and other… Read More

Nearly 65% of VA Execs Got Bonuses Despite Long Waits for Veteran Care

Nearly 65% of VA Execs Got Bonuses Despite Long Waits for Veteran Care

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – How could nearly 65% of VA senior executives have received performance awards in fiscal year 2013, while the healthcare system was engaging in widespread misconduct related to waiting lists for treatment?                       That is what… Read More

Clinicians Can Play Critical Role in Getting VA Care Back on Track

Clinicians Can Play Critical Role in Getting VA Care Back on Track

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – As a general internist at the Boston VA, Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, believes that the voices of VA physicians are of critical importance in shaping veterans’ care in the future. “Now that we are getting a much… Read More

Caregivers for New Veterans Provide Critical Service with Little Support

Caregivers for New Veterans Provide Critical Service with Little Support

By Brenda L. Mooney SANTA MONICA, CA – More than 5.5 million spouses, other relatives and friends care for injured and disabled veterans in the United States, and about 20% of those are aiding current and former servicemembers who served… Read More

Advisory Group: Exposures, Not Stress Caused Gulf War Illness

Advisory Group: Exposures, Not Stress Caused Gulf War Illness

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – Exposures to pesticides and pyridostigmine bromide are causally associated with Gulf War illness, according to a new report which also said evidence continues to demonstrate that Gulf War illness is not the result of psychological… Read More

Greater Alternative Therapy Use Gradually Decreases Opioid Dependence in Military

Greater Alternative Therapy Use Gradually Decreases Opioid Dependence in Military

WASHINGTON – The use of opioids has slightly decreased in the military, an Army official told lawmakers last month.

Brain Injury from Blasts Possible Without TBI Symptoms

Brain Injury from Blasts Possible Without TBI Symptoms

By Brenda L. Mooney SALISBURY, NC – Veterans exposed to explosions during deployment but not reporting common symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI) could have similar damage to the brain’s white matter, according to a new study. In a small… Read More

VA Programs Seek to Keep Troubled Veterans Out of Jail

VA Programs Seek to Keep Troubled Veterans Out of Jail

COLUMBIA, MO – For some veterans with unmet mental health needs, readjusting to civilian life can rapidly put them on the wrong side of the criminal justice system.

Blast Exposures Associated with Long Term TBI Complications, PTSD

Blast Exposures Associated with Long Term TBI Complications, PTSD

WASHINGTON – Warriors who served in Iraq and Afghanistan combat operations might experience lingering physical and psychological consequences of exposure to blasts.