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December 2017

Shulkin Pushes for Funding so VA Can ‘Piggyback’ on DoD’s EHR Implementation

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON—After announcing VA’s decision earlier this year to replace VistA with the same electronic health record (EHR) that DoD is using, VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, made a trip to Capitol Hill... View Article

Cardiovascular Disease

Previous VA Research Borne Out: PCI Provides No Symptom Relief in Stable Angina

In a move that reanimated a long-standing controversy in cardiology, a recently published study supports and extends the findings of landmark research done by the VA more than a decade ago.

Late Breaking News

Procedure Determines How Long Post-Surgical Patients Should Receive Opioids

Study Uses MHS Data to Create Guidelines for Painkillers BOSTON – How long should patients use opioids after common surgical procedures? Until now, there hasn’t been much consensus on the answer. A new study analyzing... View Article

Late Breaking News

Be Aware of New Clinical Recommendations on Diabetes, Back Pain, PTSD, Amputation, Opioids

Diabetes Guidelines Don’t Include Specific Pharmacotherapy Advise By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON —The VA and DoD Evidence-Based Practice Work Group has recently released five updated clinical practice guidelines. They cover common conditions such as Type... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

In-Person Cognitive Therapy Better for Insomnia

Internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy appears to be an effective alternative to regular in-person meetings with a therapist for military personnel with insomnia, but it still is only about half as effective as traditional methods.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VSOs Are Helping to Speed Veteran Claim Processing

An initiative that promises faster processing of certain claims has now been made available at all VA regional offices, the agency announced last month.

Late Breaking News

Law Seeks to Resolve Veterans Claims Backlog by Creating Multiple ‘Lanes’

President Donald Trump signed a bill last month aimed at reforming a backlogged claims appeal process by creating three “lanes” for veterans’ appeals.

Cardiovascular Disease

INVESTED Trial Tests High-Dose Flu Vaccine for Veterans With Cardiovascular Disease

Influenza hits veterans hard, and older veterans with cardiovascular disease face a substantially increased risk of complications and death from the common ailment.

August 2017

E-consults Drive Increased Involvement of VA Infectious Disease Specialists

By Annette M. Boyle BOSTON—VA physicians in facilities across New England increasingly turn to infectious disease specialists at the VA Boston Healthcare System (VABHS) with questions about antibiotic resistance, Lyme disease and other issues, but... View Article

August 2017

Will Review of VA’s Capital Assets Be Return of BRAC?

The chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs has called for a “top-to-bottom review” of all VHA capital assets.

July 2017

POWER Training Rapidly Improves Muscle Power Following Stroke in Veterans

By Annette M. Boyle CHARLESTON, SC—Each year about 15,000 veterans suffer a stroke. For many stroke survivors, regaining walking ability and, ultimately, walking speed is a primary goal of rehabilitation. Recent research might offer a... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Shulkin: ‘Significant Challenges’ Continue for VA in Care Access, Staffing

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON—VA has done a “significant job in improving access to care for clinically urgent veterans,” but veterans are still waiting too long for new appointments in primary care and mental health at... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

HIV Infection Linked to 40% Increase in Veterans’ Risk of Developing Heart Failure

Antiretroviral therapy has extended the lives of veterans with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) by decades, but a new threat could cut back their longevity.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Could Soon Achieve ‘Near Complete Eradication’ of Hepatitis C

Over the next year or so, the remarkable transformation of hepatitis C (HCV) treatment at the VA will likely reach some type of equilibrium, a new study suggested.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VSOs Raise Concerns About Proposed VA Smoking Bans

If a new law is passed, veterans living in facilities such as VA nursing homes would have only 90 days to phase out smoking in their rooms, according to veteran service organizations expressing concern about the proposal.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Outdated Processes Hamper VHA in Hiring Medical Staff

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — VHA is hampered by outdated human resources processes, as well as competition from the private sector, when it comes to hiring medical professionals, agency officials told lawmakers. “We are striving... View Article

April 2017

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.

April 2017

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.

Cardiovascular Disease

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?”

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Obesity Linked to Higher PC Mortality

While, at the population level, obesity is associated with prostate cancer (PC) mortality, little information is available on how obesity affects long-term PC-specific outcomes after initial treatment, according to a study in the journal Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

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.

Army

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.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Intensive Monitoring Needed for Veterans with AF and CKD

A retrospective cohort study recently evaluated warfarin prescription, quality of international normalized ratio (INR) monitoring and of INR control in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) and chronic kidney disease (CKD) at the VA

Department of Justice

Telehealth Device Helps Avoid Suicide in Veterans With Schizophrenia

Telehealth tools are showing promise in helping save the lives of schizophrenic veterans with a high risk of suicide, but the VA is facing a setback in using them.

COPD

COPD Associated With Frailty in HIV-Infected Veterans

With chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) prevalence increasing among aging HIV-infected patients, a recent study sought to determine how that relates to frailty in veterans treated at the VA.

December 2016

Metformin Might Improve Colorectal Cancer Survival

Recent clinical studies have suggested that the common diabetes drug metformin holds promise in improving colorectal cancer survival, but the small number of patients and inconsistencies related to diabetic severity have limited the significance of that research.

December 2016

Non-CLL Rates Higher for SMOKY Nuclear Test Veterans

Military veterans at the Nevada test site (NTS) during the SMOKY atmospheric nuclear weapons test in 1957 were reported to be at increased risk for leukemia in 1979, but this increase was not evaluated with respect to radiation dose.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Veterans’ Weight-Loss Issues Different From Those Never Serving

It’s a story VA primary care providers often hear from patients who need to lose weight: Even though they were constantly pressured to maintain a healthy weight and level of fitness while on active military service, veterans never learned much about healthy diets.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

More Research Sought on Health Effects of War Zone Burn Pits

The U.S. government must do more to help troops who were exposed to open-air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan

Addiction

Study Links Depression, Substance Abuse in Veterans

What are the patterns over time of depression, smoking, unhealthy alcohol use and other substance use among individuals receiving medical care, and when are integrated screening and treatment strategies warranted?

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Impetigo, Psoriasis Might Increase Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma Risk

Recent research has focused on some etiological factors to help predict who is at risk for developing cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL), which occurs disproportionately in veterans.

Addiction

White House Action Increases Opioid Prescription Monitoring at VA

By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON—The White House’s announcement this summer of new steps to address the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic had a mixed message for the VA: While the administration specifically praised the VA’s... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Timing of Flu in HIV Patients Vaccinated Early

SAN DIEGO – Past research has shown that patients with HIV infection vaccinated early in the flu season are generally more likely to contract influenza or influenza-like illness (ILI), compared with those receiving late vaccination.... View Article

August 2016

VA Chiropractic Care Shows Dramatic Increase

WEST HAVEN, CT—Use of chiropractic services at the VA rose by more than 800% between 2004 and 2015, at least partly because of the high rate of musculoskeletal injuries in recent conflicts, according to a... View Article

August 2016

Telehealth Found Equally Effective in Lowering Blood Sugar

DENVER—Endocrinology telehealth consultations improved short-term glycemic control as effectively as traditional face-to-face visits in a veteran population with diabetes, according to a new study.The article published in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology noted... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Pushed to Provide More-Accurate Data on Veteran Suicide Rates

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers are pressing VA to complete an analysis to provide more-accurate data on how many veterans take their own lives in a given time period.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Bureaucracy, Not Patient Factors, Causes Burn Out for VA Psychiatrists

SAN ANTONIO — VA psychiatrists help large numbers of veterans work through extraordinarily traumatic experiences day in and day out, so high rates of burnout aren’t really surprising.

Late Breaking News

Agent Orange Exposure Shows Link to Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma has been classified as exhibiting “limited or suggestive evidence” of an association with exposure to herbicides in Vietnam War veterans.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

GAO Report Finds Access Problems ‘Persistent’ at VA

Some Veterans Still Wait Months for AppointmentsBy Sandra BasuWASHINGTON—In response to a report finding that some patients still must wait months to see a doctor, VA officials defended their efforts to fix scheduling and access... View Article

April 2016

AMD Predicts Poorer Overall Survival in Older Women

PORTLAND, OR — What is the association between age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and all-cause and cause-specific mortality in a population of older women?Answering that question was the goal of a prospective cohort study at four... View Article

April 2016

Bill Expanding Veteran Access to Immunizations Ignites Controversy

Pharmacists Take a Lead Role in Increasing Vaccination RatesBy Annette M. BoyleWASHINGTON — An effort in the U.S. Senate to ensure that veterans have access to all recommended immunizations was about as routine as legislation... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Urged to Assert Ownership Rights to Employee Inventions

New Hepatitis C ‘Cure’ Is One issueBy Sandra BasuWASHINGTON — Is VA doing enough to assert ownership rights of inventions made by VA employees using federal funds?The question was raised recently by lawmakers, who focused... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Seeks More Flexible Work Period Requirement for Healthcare Staff

The VA is seeking to end what it considers an arbitrary 80-hour per federal work period requirement which complicates hospital staffing, especially in emergency departments.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Senators Emphasize Priorities for VA IG Nominee

By Sandra BasuWASHINGTON — Michael Missal told lawmakers that, if he becomes the next VA Inspector General, one of his goals will be to work “to promote an improved environment” for whistleblowers.“I will also take... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

About 15,000 Vets Eligible for Camp Lejeune Benefits

‘Presumptive’ Process Expected to Take a YearBy Sandra BasuWASHINGTON — About 15,000 veterans would be eligible for expanded disability compensation because of exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, NC, between August 1953 and December... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Revises Veterans Choice Program to Improve Access

Rules for veterans receiving non-VA care through the Veterans Choice Program (VCP) were relaxed recently, and, while some members of Congress applauded the changes, others argued VA still had not done enough to repair the troubled program.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Opioid-Related Death at Tomah VA Leads to Legislation

By Sandra BasuWASHINGTON — Legislation that was created in response to the death of a veteran at the Tomah, WI, VAMC would help provide safer and more effective pain management for patients, supporters said.The Senate... View Article

December 2015

New Gout Classification Criteria Released Recently

The American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism recently came out with new 2015 Gout Classification Criteria.

Cardiovascular Disease

VA-Led Study: NPs, PA Provide Comparable Cardiac Care to Physicians

All Fail to Consistently Meet Performance MeasuresBy Brenda L. MooneyHOUSTON — Cardiac patients and even some medical staff might assume they will receive the best ongoing care when they see a physician, not an advanced... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

McDonald: Proposed Board ‘Abrogation’ of Congress’ Role

Sandra BasuWASHINGTON — An independent governance board, as defined in a recent report, would be redundant with the role of the congressional committees overseeing the VA, according to Secretary Robert McDonald.The recently released review was... View Article

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