Category: Current Issue

VA Proposes Physician Pay Increases, Begins Major Recruiting Campaign

VA Proposes Physician Pay Increases, Begins Major Recruiting Campaign

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – The maximum rates of annual pay for incoming VHA physicians and dentists would be increased as much as $35,000, under a VA proposal announced last month. The updated pay tables would allow physicians and dentists… Read More

Veterans Appeals Delayed Months; Whistleblower Suggests Leadership Issues

Veterans Appeals Delayed Months; Whistleblower Suggests Leadership Issues

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — A VA whistleblower told lawmakers last month that veterans’ cases waited hundreds of days for a final decision at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, even though some of them required nothing but a signature to… Read More

What Is the Link Between RA and Peridontal Disease?

OMAHA – Could the periodontal region, much like the joints, be targeted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA)? Or does periodontal disease (PD) set off immune responses that are more severe in some forms of RA? Those are questions raised by a… Read More

Effectiveness, Cost Not Linked in Some RA Therapies

SALT LAKE CITY – Dose escalation was higher within the VA for some rheumatoid arthritis therapies, even when greater costs were not accompanied by increases in effectiveness. That’s according to a new study published recently in the Journal of Rheumatology… Read More

Brief Cognitive Therapy Helps Insomnia Patients

GAINESVILLE, FL – Brief cognitive behavioral therapy can be highly effective in improving sleep in patients with insomnia. Sleep improved in 86% of insomnia patients who completed at least three sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI), according to… Read More

Novel Sleep Medication OK’d for Insomnia Treatment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, NJ – The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first orexin receptor antagonist for treatment of insomnia. Suvorexant, marketed as Belsomra by Merck, Sharpe & Dohme Corp. of Whitehouse Station, NJ, is the first approved drug of… Read More

Military Service Frequently Ended by Muscle Injuries Combined with Mental Health Issues

Military Service Frequently Ended by Muscle Injuries Combined with Mental Health Issues

By Annette M. Boyle ANN ARBOR, MI – When it comes to musculoskeletal injuries in the military, the physical disability might be only part of the story. While nearly two-thirds of troops deemed unfit for duty within four years of… Read More

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

Diagnosis Prompts Weight Loss Efforts in Short Term

DURHAM, NC – Patients may rush to start a weight loss program upon diagnosis of an obesity-related disease but often are unable to sustain the effort on that basis alone, according to a new VA study. The study, published recently… Read More

TBI Increases Dementia Risks for Older Veterans

MINNEAPOLIS – Experiencing a traumatic brain injury (TBI) ups the risk 60% for older veterans to later develop dementia, according to a recent study. The report, published recently in the journal Neurology, also found that, among all veterans developing dementia,… Read More

HIV/HCV Co-Infected Patients Have No Safe Level of Alcohol Use

HIV/HCV Co-Infected Patients Have No Safe Level of Alcohol Use

By Annette M. Boyle PHILADELPHIA – Otherwise “non-hazardous” levels of drinking pose a real danger for patients co-infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus. Drinking, even moderately, dramatically increases the risk of liver fibrosis, according to a… Read More

Validity of Brief Screening Tool to Identify Violent Veterans

CHAPEL HILL, NC – With growing concerns about shooting sprees by troubled veterans, the Violence Screening and Assessment of Needs instrument (VIO-SCAN) was developed to try to identify veterans who should have comprehensive risk assessments for violent tendencies. A group… Read More

Marketing for Generic Celebrex Approved by FDA

WASHINGTON – The first generic versions of Celebrex (celecoxib) capsules, a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, short-term pain and other conditions, were recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries received approval to market celecoxib capsules in… Read More

Military Health System Introduces Telehealth Pilot Projects to Improve Access to Care

By  Jonathan Woodson, MD, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Technology advances — particularly the use of telemedicine — continue to change how Americans receive their healthcare, where they receive their healthcare and the organizational models for managing their… Read More

Chronic Pain Med Use Increases Depression Incidence

ST. LOUIS – Chronic use of pain-relieving medication can increase in the risk of developing major depression, according to a new veterans study. The study, led by researchers from Saint Louis University and published recently in the Journal of General… Read More

Risk, Not Pain Relief, Increased by Pre-Nerve Block Sedation

BALTIMORE – When patients are sedated before a nerve block to diagnose or treat chronic pain, costs and the risks of unnecessary surgery increase without improving patient satisfaction or pain control in the long term. That’s according to a report… Read More

Repeat Colonoscopy Recommendations Usually Meet Guidelines

ANN ARBOR, MI – Physician endoscopists’ recommendations for timing of surveillance colonoscopy in average-risk patients with one to two small polyps are consistent with guideline recommendations in about 90% of cases, according to a new study. The study, which was… Read More

VA Care Delays Implicated in Veteran Fatalities; Lawmakers Express Anger

VA Care Delays Implicated in Veteran Fatalities; Lawmakers Express Anger

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — Veterans have died from delayed or never delivered medical care at VA facilities, according to lawmakers who accused the agency of not addressing the problems in a transparent way. “When errors do occur, and they… Read More

FDA Approves Otezla for Active Psoriatic Arthritis

SUMMIT, NJ — Clinicians have a new tool in their arsenal to treat active psoriatic arthritis. The Food and Drug Administration recently approved Otezla (apremilast) to treat adults with active psoriatic arthritis (PsA). The drug is marketed by Celgene Corporation,… Read More

VA Goes to College to Bring Services to Student Veterans

VA Goes to College to Bring Services to Student Veterans

SAN FRANCISCO – Veteran enrollment has been increasing dramatically at City College of San Francisco, but Keith Armstrong, LCSW, director of mental health social work at the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC), noticed the students were having a difficult time getting… Read More