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IOM: VA Should Focus on Gulf War Syndrome Treatment, Not Causes

IOM: VA Should Focus on Gulf War Syndrome Treatment, Not Causes

Veterans Groups Warn That Research Could End By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON — A major scientific panel has recommended that the VA stop looking for the cause of Gulf War illness and focus instead on monitoring deployed veterans and treating… Read More

CAD Linked to Macular Degeneration in Veterans

LEXINGTON, KY — VA clinicians should co-screen for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and systemic vascular disease, according to a new study. The report, published recently in the Southern Medical Journal, notes that, although AMD — the leading cause of blindness… Read More

VA Care for Common Conditions Compares Favorably With Medicare Hospitals

Patients treated at the VA had a lower 30-day all-cause mortality rate for heart attack and heart failure than those treated at other hospitals, according to a new study.

RAND Reports Find No Evidence of Widespread Extended Wait Times at VA

RAND Reports Find No Evidence of Widespread Extended Wait Times at VA

One of the most-common complaints about VA healthcare is that veterans have to wait an inordinate amount of time for a medical appointment. A new congressionally-mandated review reveals that isn’t true in most cases.

GAO Report Urges Clarification on VHA, DoD Drug Transition Policy

GAO Report Urges Clarification on VHA, DoD Drug Transition Policy

Last year, a new policy instructed VHA providers not to discontinue mental health medications initiated by DoD providers due to formulary differences.

Comorbid Mental Disorders Increase VHA Diabetes Costs

CHARLESTON, SC — Costs of treating diabetes increase when patients also have mental health issues, according to a new VHA study. The study, which was published recently in the American Journal of Managed Care, looked at the prevalence and specific… Read More

VA CABG Patients Increasingly Older, Sicker

Over a 14-year period, VA patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) were progressively older and sicker, with an increasing prevalence of obesity, diabetes, left main coronary artery disease and advanced heart failure, according to a new study.

Healthcare Advocates Argue for More Unified Military Medical Command

Healthcare Advocates Argue for More Unified Military Medical Command

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — Healthcare advocates weighed in on the controversy over governance of military medicine, arguing for a unified command in which all the medical assets of the three services are under a single authority. “We fight wars… Read More

Cirrhosis Expected to Peak by 2021 in VA; Liver Cancer Epidemic Continues

Cirrhosis Expected to Peak by 2021 in VA; Liver Cancer Epidemic Continues

For the VA, the combination of effective treatment options and much lower prevalence of HCV in younger veterans may offer a light at the end of the tunnel — and a turning point in the steady rise of HCV-associated complications such as cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in only a few years.

DoD, VA Scolded Again for EHR Interoperability Delays

DoD, VA Scolded Again for EHR Interoperability Delays

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — DoD informed Congress last month that it has met key interoperability requirements set forth in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. DoD Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendell wrote in a… Read More

Recommendations to Improve Governance at VA

Establish a governance board to develop fundamental policy, define the strategic path, insulate VHA leadership from direct political interaction, and ensure accountability for the achievement of established performance measures. Congress should consider the following alternatives for such a governance board:… Read More

Electronic Triggers Speed up Follow-up for Cancer Diagnosis, Care at Houston VAMC

Electronic Triggers Speed up Follow-up for Cancer Diagnosis, Care at Houston VAMC

By Brenda L. Mooney HOUSTON — Over the last years, the VA has struggled with ways to reduce follow-up delays for patients, such as those being evaluated for cancer. Researchers at the Michael E. DeBakey VAMC and Baylor College of… Read More

VA Leads Nation in Using Big Data to Improve Healthcare

VA Leads Nation in Using Big Data to Improve Healthcare

Developers Caution Against Too Much of a Good Thing By Annette M. Boyle SEATTLE — Now that nearly every hospital in the United States uses electronic health records, healthcare systems across the country are wrestling with how to use all… Read More

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

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.

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.

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.

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

TRICARE Changes Could Damage Military Readiness, Training

TRICARE Changes Could Damage Military Readiness, Training

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON—DoD and military healthcare officials warned lawmakers last month that a recent report’s recommendation to replace TRICARE with a selection of commercial insurance plans would be detrimental to medical training and readiness of military medical personnel. “The… Read More