Agencies

Veterans Choice Program Eases Process Somewhat for Outside Prescriptions

Veterans Choice Program Eases Process Somewhat for Outside Prescriptions

By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON — Veterans who receive care through the Veterans Choice Program may not have many choices when it comes to prescriptions from those outside providers, but they do have more than those who receive prescriptions from… Read More

VA Seeks Presumptive-Disability Status for Camp Lejeune Veterans

VA Seeks Presumptive-Disability Status for Camp Lejeune Veterans

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — The VA is beginning the process of amending its regulations to establish presumptive-disability status for veterans who have certain diseases linked to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune. By establishing presumptive status, it is presumed… Read More

VHA Review Suggests BRAC-Like Commission on Closing Facilities

VHA Review Suggests BRAC-Like Commission on Closing Facilities

Asks If Only Service-Related Conditions Should Be Treated By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON—The VA should consider establishing a board or commission similar to the Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) to address policy issues like hospital closures in an “objective… Read More

Individual Prescriber Preferences Contribute to VA’s Antibiotic Overuse

Individual Prescriber Preferences Contribute to VA’s Antibiotic Overuse

By Brenda L. Mooney SALT LAKE CITY — A study conducted in the VA health system uncovered a disturbing truth about overuse of antibiotics: A big contributor to the problem is that some clinicians prescribe the drugs to nearly every… Read More

Congressional Testimony: VA Still Failing to Protect Whistleblowers

Congressional Testimony: VA Still Failing to Protect Whistleblowers

Sufficient safeguards still are lacking to prevent retaliation against those who filed complaints against the VA, whistleblowers told a congressional subcommittee recently.

VA’s Aging Infrastructure Likely to Create Future Care Crisis

VA’s Aging Infrastructure Likely to Create Future Care Crisis

With 50% of the VA facilities more than 60 years old, including operating rooms so outdated that modern equipment and technology won’t fit.

Program Expansion Sought to Allow All Vets to Opt for Outside Care

Legislation introduced by a key Republican leader seeks to open up the Veterans Choice Program so that any VA patient can opt for outside healthcare through the program.

Team-Based ED Program Halves Inappropriate Prescribing for Older Veterans

Team-Based ED Program Halves Inappropriate Prescribing for Older Veterans

In the bustle of a hectic VAMC emergency department, do healthcare providers always remember which common medications are often problematic for older veterans? Usually not.

DoD Blames Lack of Standards, Inadequate Testing for Live Anthrax Shipments

DoD Blames Lack of Standards, Inadequate Testing for Live Anthrax Shipments

Spores Were Sent to 88 Primary Labs in 50 States, Nine Foreign Countries By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON — In what DoD officials called a “massive institutional failure,” samples of supposedly inactivated anthrax spores, some of which were later found… Read More

GAO Warns VA/DoD Medical Record Interoperability Could Take Years

GAO Warns VA/DoD Medical Record Interoperability Could Take Years

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — Despite recent moves to improve their technology, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has concluded that DoD and VA still are behind schedule when it comes to key activities related to “the deployment of their modernized… Read More

As Opioid Prescribing Drops, VA Expands Alternative Pain Therapies

As Opioid Prescribing Drops, VA Expands Alternative Pain Therapies

A year ago, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) rolled out new restrictions on hydrocodone-based painkillers, creating a painful situation for many veterans.

Service Dog Becomes Veteran’s ‘Support System’

Service Dog Becomes Veteran’s ‘Support System’

Rules Clarified on Animals on VA Property The VA has revised its regulation regarding the presence of animals on VA property to ensure its practices remain consistent with federal law. Under the revised regulation, only dogs that are individually trained… Read More

VA: Disability Claims Backlog Reduced to Lowest Ever

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON—Calling it a “historic milestone,” the VA announced last month that it has reduced the disability claims backlog to the lowest it has ever been.  As of last month, the claims backlog stood at 98,535 — an… Read More

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.

Air Force Recruits Show Reduced Levels of Immunity to Common Diseases

Air Force Recruits Show Reduced Levels of Immunity to Common Diseases

Lower immunization rates have increased the number of U.S. outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, even of those considered eradicated in this country, such as measles.

Focus on Protecting Troops Against IEDs Continues After Conflicts End

Focus on Protecting Troops Against IEDs Continues After Conflicts End

With blast-induced traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) the signature injury of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, research and intense military focus on improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have continued even as the military engagements have wound down.

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