Non-Clinical Topics

VA’s Fails to Follow Own Requirements for New Hire Drug Testing

VA’s Fails to Follow Own Requirements for New Hire Drug Testing

WASHINGTON — VA is “committed to 100% testing of all final selectees” for its safety-sensitive occupations prior to their appointment, lawmakers were told recently.

VA Research: Vancomycin Lowers Death Rates in Severe C. Diff Infection

VA Research: Vancomycin Lowers Death Rates in Severe C. Diff Infection

SALT LAKE CITY — Severe illness caused by the bacteria Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is now the most common hospital-acquired infection in the United States. A new VA-led study suggests, however, that it is not always being treated appropriately.

VA Extends Mental Healthcare to Veterans Not Honorably Discharged

VA Extends Mental Healthcare to Veterans Not Honorably Discharged

WASHINGTON — In his first appearance before Congress as VA Secretary, David Shulkin, MD, said that “there is no other clinical issue” that concerns him as much as veteran suicides.

VA Pharmacist-Led Diabetes Clinic Improves Glycemic Control, Reduces Costs

VA Pharmacist-Led Diabetes Clinic Improves Glycemic Control, Reduces Costs

SAN DIEGO — Many veterans drift for years with out-of-control diabetes, despite regular visits with their primary care physician and prescriptions for anti-glycemic agents.

VA Researchers Show How Imatinib Improves Prognosis for Hard-to-Treat Cancer

VA Researchers Show How Imatinib Improves Prognosis for Hard-to-Treat Cancer

PORTLAND, OR — Not long ago, less than a third of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients survived five years and gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) patients had an even shorter life expectancy, according to the National Cancer Institute. Now significant numbers of patients with these cancers live for another 10 years after diagnosis.

System to Smooth Out VBA Claims Backlog Creates Other Issues

System to Smooth Out VBA Claims Backlog Creates Other Issues

WASHINGTON — Implementation of a new process to distribute disability claims to offices with capacity to process them will benefit veterans, Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) told lawmakers in an effort to reassure them.

Bill Gives VA Secretary New Powers to Fire, Demote, Suspend Employees

Bill Gives VA Secretary New Powers to Fire, Demote, Suspend Employees

WASHINGTON—A bill that would provide the VA Secretary with enhanced authority to remove, demote, or suspend any VA employee, including senior executive service employees, for performance or misconduct is making its way through Congress.

VA Might Yet Move to Commercial EHR System

VA Might Yet Move to Commercial EHR System

After years of working to modernize its electronic health record internally, a senior IT official indicated last month that a shift to a commercial EHR is the likely path forward for VA.

Opioid Safety Initiative Drives Down Prescriptions for High-Dose Painkillers

Opioid Safety Initiative Drives Down Prescriptions for High-Dose Painkillers

Thanks to a national initiative begun at the VHA in 2013, fewer veterans are receiving prescriptions for risky dosages of opioid painkillers.

How Low To Go: The Continuing Controversy on BP Targets

How Low To Go: The Continuing Controversy on BP Targets

After the release of the SPRINT research in 2015, the question about treating hypertension in older adults appeared to be, “How low can you go?”

Shulkin Sails Through Senate on Promise of VA Changes

Shulkin Sails Through Senate on Promise of VA Changes

David J. Shulkin, MD, stepped into the role of VA secretary last month after receiving unanimous support from the U.S. Senate.

VA Action Stabilizes Prescription Costs for Veterans

VA Action Stabilizes Prescription Costs for Veterans

Late last month, the VA introduced a tiered pharmacy benefit designed to decrease the cost of outpatient medications for most veterans.

Change in Law Allows IVF at VA for Wounded Veterans Left Infertile

Change in Law Allows IVF at VA for Wounded Veterans Left Infertile

Veterans whose combat-related trauma left them infertile now have access to in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment covered by VA, thanks to implementation of a new interim final rule.

GAO: Quality of Care Oversight Is Lacking at IHS

GAO: Quality of Care Oversight Is Lacking at IHS

The Indian Health Service’s “oversight of the quality of care in its federally-operated facilities has been limited and inconsistent,” according to a new report pointing out the agency’s mission is to “raise the physical, mental, social, and spiritual health of American Indians and Alaska Natives to the highest level.”

VA Accountability Tops Legislative List in New Congress

VA Accountability Tops Legislative List in New Congress

House lawmakers wasted no time beginning the 115th Congress last month with legislation addressing VA accountability.

VA Urgent Care, ED Staffing Helped By New Legislation

VA Urgent Care, ED Staffing Helped By New Legislation

VA soon will be able to implement flexible work schedules for certain medical professionals to better accommodate patients.

Army Pharmacy Pilots New Service Model at Four Sites

Army Pharmacy Pilots New Service Model at Four Sites

Four Army pharmacy sites have taken the lead in shifting the patient experience from a transactional paradigm to a service-oriented model the Army hopes to replicate across all facilities.

Metformin Improves Colorectal Cancer Survival in Veterans

Metformin has been associated with improved colorectal cancer survival (CRC), but investigations have been limited by small numbers of patients and confounding by diabetic severity, according to a new study.

VA Epilepsy Video Series Offers Hope to Patients Struggling With The Disease

VA Epilepsy Video Series Offers Hope to Patients Struggling With The Disease

For many veterans, the onset of epilepsy is terrifying, and a confirmed diagnosis does little to provide relief.

Don’t Forget Leishmaniasis When Servicemembers Have Mysterious Symptoms

Don’t Forget Leishmaniasis When Servicemembers Have Mysterious Symptoms

Military physicians stumped by a diagnosis might want to consider leishmaniasis in personnel returning from Iraq or Afghanistan, according to a new report.

Army Child Abuse, Neglect Cases Under-Reported

Army Child Abuse, Neglect Cases Under-Reported

Abuse and neglect of children of Army personnel appears to be under-reported, according to a new report which also suggests a breakdown of communication between civilian child protective services and the military.

New Rule Allows Benefits for Some Camp Lejeune Veterans

New Rule Allows Benefits for Some Camp Lejeune Veterans

Thousands of veterans who were exposed to contaminants at Camp Lejeune will become eligible for automatic disability compensation if they have been diagnosed with eight diseases linked with toxins in the water supply.