Departments Home

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

Early Physical Therapy Reduces Back Pain Costs

SAN ANTONIO — Following an initial episode of acute, nonspecific low-back pain (LBP), early and guideline-adherent physical therapy resulted in substantially lower costs and reduced use of healthcare resources over a two-year period, according to a study conducted within the… Read More

Duration of Opioid Action Affects Unintentional Overdoses

BOSTON — Clinicians weighing the risks and benefits of prescribing different opioid regimens should take not only the daily dose into consideration but also the duration of the opioid action, according to a new study. That study, published recently in… Read More

VA Study Finds High-Dose Flu Vaccine Better Only for Veterans 85 or Older

VA Study Finds High-Dose Flu Vaccine Better Only for Veterans 85 or Older

Research Contradicts Other Recent Findings By Brenda L. Mooney PHILADELPHIA — As the latest influenza season finally abates, a new VA study raises questions about how effective the high-dose vaccine really is for the 65 or older cohort. Beginning at… Read More

House Committee Blasts VA for Not Complying with Information Requests

House Committee Blasts VA for Not Complying with Information Requests

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – Lawmakers and VA officials continue to spar over whether the agency has been complying with House Committee requests for documents and information. “While I am willing to work with Secretary McDonald to implement needed reforms,… Read More

Therapy for Insomnia Reduces Suicide Ideation in Veterans

Therapy for Insomnia Reduces Suicide Ideation in Veterans

RAND Study: DoD Isn’t Doing Enough to Improve Sleep Health By Brenda L. Mooney WASHINGTON – Difficulty sleeping appears to be a significant contributor to suicide ideation in veterans, even more so than severe depression, according to a new study.A… Read More

How Effective is Chiropractic Care in Dealing with Veterans’ Pain, Disability?

Recent Study Suggests Mixed Results By Brenda L. Mooney CANANDAIGUA, NY – When alternative therapies are discussed as options for pain relief without medications, chiropractic care often is on the list. For many clinicians at the VA, however, a key… Read More

Secretary Proposes ‘Rightsizing’ VA by Closing Underused Facilities

Secretary Proposes ‘Rightsizing’ VA by Closing Underused Facilities

Political Battles Expected WASHINGTON – The VA needs to “right-size” by shifting resources to areas of the country where the veteran population is growing and by disposing of more than 10 million square feet of excess space that is costing… Read More

Pharmacist Role Expanded with Success in Managing Polypharmacy Patients

Pharmacist Role Expanded with Success in Managing Polypharmacy Patients

FALLS CHURCH, VA – The DoD has successfully reversed a trend toward increased use of opioids by engaging pharmacists in oversight and management of polypharmacy patients in Warrior Transition Units.

Women Veterans Have Higher Prevalence of Arthritis than Male Colleagues

Women Veterans Have Higher Prevalence of Arthritis than Male Colleagues

DURHAM, NC – While the commitment to physical fitness demanded of active duty forces can keep many ailments at bay, the rigors of service also bring an increased risk of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases, especially for young women entering (and exiting) the military.

With More Women in Military, the ‘Great Imitator’ Often Challenges Health Providers

With More Women in Military, the ‘Great Imitator’ Often Challenges Health Providers

Lupus Diagnoses Have Risen Significantly
BETHESDA, MD – As the fictional team of physicians attempted to identify mysterious conditions season after season, TV’s Dr. Gregory House often assured them, “It’s not lupus — It’s never lupus.” But in recent years, many DoD physicians have found that it is lupus — it’s increasingly lupus.

Clay Hunt Suicide Bill Blocked in Senate, Falls to Pass This Session

Clay Hunt Suicide Bill Blocked in Senate, Falls to Pass This Session

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON-Advocacy groups were upset last month that a bill requiring VA and DoD to conduct annual evaluations of their mental healthcare and suicide prevention programs was not passed before Congress finished its business in December. The bill,… Read More

Military Cites Progress on Curbing Sexual Assaults, Increasing Reporting

Military Cites Progress on Curbing Sexual Assaults, Increasing Reporting

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – About 19,000 troops experienced unwanted sexual contact in 2014, down from an estimated 26,000 in 2012, and the DoD credited its efforts to address sexual assaults for the decline. “We believe that our efforts to… Read More

Healthcare Providers Should Consider Ethnicity in Weight-Loss Counseling

Healthcare Providers Should Consider Ethnicity in Weight-Loss Counseling

Studies Show Unique Needs of Hispanic, Veteran Populations By Annette M. Boyle NEW YORK – Since 2003, the proportion of new military recruits who identified as Hispanic has increased by more than 50% and the number of Hispanic veterans has… Read More

VA Fails to Follow Guidelines on Hepatitis B Follow-Up Testing Rates, Treatment

By Brenda L. Mooney BOSTON – Rates of serologic testing for hepatitis B (HBV) at the VA fail to meet levels recommended by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) practice guideline, according to new research. Researchers… Read More

New Treatments Offer More Options, Fewer Side Effects for HIV-Infected Veterans

New Treatments Offer More Options, Fewer Side Effects for HIV-Infected Veterans

Clinicians Find Advances ‘Mind-Boggling’ By Annette M. Boyle ATLANTA – Therapeutic options for patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) continue to expand, enabling more veterans to begin treatment with fewer adverse side effects and far less complicated regimens than even… Read More

Agent Orange-Related Non-Melanotic Skin Cancer Still Affects Veterans

HOUSTON – Decades later, exposure to Agent Orange puts Vietnam War veterans at high risk for certain types of skin cancer. That’s according to a report published earlier this year in Find Your Surgeon Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official… Read More