September 2014 Direct

by U.S. Medicine

September 16, 2014


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No Conclusive Evidence that Phoenix VA Care Delays Were Fatal
WASHINGTON – A VA inspector’s general report has found that access barriers adversely affected the quality of care at the Phoenix VA Healthcare System but could not “conclusively assert” that patients died as a result of waiting for care. The IG conducted a review of 3,409 veteran patients at the Phoenix VA, including 40 patients on the waitlist who died from April 2013 through April 2014. More http://www.usmedicine.com/late-breaking-news/ig-report-examines-impact-of-care-delays-at-phoenix-va/


DoD’s Slow Transfer of Service Records Contributes to VA Claims Backlog
WASHINGTON – While VA is under heavy pressure from lawmakers to reduce the claims backlog and process claims faster, the agency is not the only one to blame for the delays, according to the DoD Office of Inspector General (IG). A recent IG audit found that DoD has not consistently transferred timely and complete service treatment records to the VA. Those records are necessary to support veteran benefit claims. More

New VA Secretary Moves Quickly to Resolve Care Issues
WASHINGTON – VA Secretary Robert McDonald hit the ground running last month, reaffirming the message that VA could turn its challenges into an opportunity to do “what we could never have done otherwise.” McDonald, who was warmly received by lawmakers during the confirmation process, also wasted no time taking further steps to address the crisis. Among those efforts was initiating an independent, nationwide review of all scheduling practices at VA medical facilities by the Joint Commission. More

pencil_white.jpg Opinion Poll:
Have you seen any changes in the way the VA operates since Robert McDonald became the new secretary?
Please click here to participate in this month’s U.S. Medicine readership poll.

Mintu Turakhia, MD

New VA Study Recommends Against Digoxin for AF
PALO ALTO, CA – A new study is calling into question the practice of treating atrial fibrillation with digoxin, finding that patients on the digitalis derivative were 1.2 times more likely to die than comparable patients prescribed other therapies. The research from the VA Palo Alto, CA, Health Care System was only the latest salvo in a heated international debate about the safety of digoxin in treating atrial fibrillation patients. The latest study focused on 122,465 VA patients who received a new diagnosis of atrial fibrillation between 2003 and 2008. More

Barbara O. Rothbaum, PhD

DOD, VA Fall Short in Tracking Outcomes of PTSD Treatments
WASHINGTON – One of the signature injuries of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), affected 13.5% of soldiers and caused 502,000 veterans to seek treatment in 2012. Despite the ubiquity of the disorder, DoD and VA employ no consistent measures to determine the effectiveness of the treatments received by millions of servicemembers and veterans, according to the Institute of Medicine (IoM). As a result, neither the DoD nor the VA can determine which treatments work best or whether some treatments work at all. Yet, in 2012, DOD spent $294 million and the VA spent more than $3 billion on PTSD treatments. More

From the Editor-in-Chief:

‘Medicine is not a science; it is empiricism founded on a network of blunders.’ -Emmet Densmore (1837-1911)

Editor-in-Chief, Chester “Trip” Buckenmaier III,

I attended the funeral recently for the mother of a young woman – I’ll call her “Mary” for this editorial – who has been friends with my daughters throughout their childhood. In her mid-50s, Mary’s mother died suddenly in bed from no obvious cause. After an autopsy, Mary’s mother was found to have excessive opioid in her blood and likely succumbed to opioid induced respiratory suppression in her sleep. As we discussed this unnerving finding with Mary, an all-too-familiar tale for me emerged: Mary’s mother experienced significant pain following knee replacement surgery, and more opioid was the pain specialist’s answer – disastrously all too common an answer in American medicine. More

More U.S. Medicine Articles…

Brenda L. Mooney
Editorial Director,U.S. Medicine
[email protected]
39 York Street
Lambertville, NJВ  08530

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