Non-Clinical Topics

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.

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

Honored AF Major Promotes Greater Primary Care Role for Pharmacists

Honored AF Major Promotes Greater Primary Care Role for Pharmacists

In 2012, pharmacists at Hill Air Force Base had 84 direct patient-to-pharmacist clinical interactions a year. Today there are 9,600 patient interactions.

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.

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.

Study: Alzheimer’s Disease Blood Test Would Be Feasible

LOS ANGELES — A new study provides the first evidence that a simple blood test could be developed to confirm the presence of beta amyloid proteins in the brain, which could help in early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. No reliable… Read More

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.

New DHA Screening Process Brings Drug Compounding Costs to 2% of April Levels

New DHA Screening Process Brings Drug Compounding Costs to 2% of April Levels

DHA Pharmacy Chief Says “Nefarious Actors” Targeted Beneficiaries By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON — In April, the Defense Health Agency (DHA) spent $18 million a day in compound drug claims. By July, the daily costs had dropped to $360,000 as… Read More

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

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

Vendors: VA Payment to Outside Providers Increasingly Delayed

Vendors: VA Payment to Outside Providers Increasingly Delayed

Veterans’ Credit Ratings Could Be Jeopardized By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — The VA is taking too long to reimburse non-VA healthcare providers, a problem that could result in veterans being billed for the services, panelists told a House of Representatives… Read More

VA’s Prescription Management Practices Come Under Fire From Legislators

VA’s Prescription Management Practices Come Under Fire From Legislators

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — Lawmakers charged that the VA is not doing enough to ensure that medication use is properly managed among veterans — particularly those already struggling with mental health issues. VA officials were questioned on prescription mismanagement… Read More

Gait Stride History Makes Leg Prosthetics More Accurate

CHICAGO — Major lower limb amputation accounted for up to 76% of amputations sustained by U.S. military personnel from 2001 to 2011. Although prosthetic lower limbs have been available, they traditionally have not restored full function. Now, according to a… Read More

Army Polypharmacy Program Posts Outstanding Return on Investment

Army Polypharmacy Program Posts Outstanding Return on Investment

Clinical Pharmacists Help Optimize Medication Use By Annette M. Boyle HONOLULU — A pilot program at Tripler Army Medical Center that manages patients taking multiple drugs appears poised to post a financial return on investment of 5:1. As a result,… Read More

Some Non-Federal Physicians Express Discomfort Treating Veterans

Some Non-Federal Physicians Express Discomfort Treating Veterans

By Brenda L. Mooney ATHENS, OH — The push to allow veterans more access to non-VA care — or even to bifurcate the system, as some have suggested, so that specific types of care always are provided by private-sector clinicians… 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

Senators: VA Insufficiently Responsive to Oversight Recommendations

Senators: VA Insufficiently Responsive to Oversight Recommendations

Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) put the VA on its “high risk” list for the first time, noting that the agency needs oversight to make sure “its resources are being used in a cost-effective manner to improve veterans’ timely access to healthcare.”

DoD Seeks to Stem Retaliation After Sexual Assault Reports

DoD Seeks to Stem Retaliation After Sexual Assault Reports

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — Nearly two-thirds of women said they experienced some type of retaliation after informing military officials they had been victims of unwanted sexual conduct, according to newly finalized data from a DoD report. In response, Secretary… Read More