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Current Issue

VSOs Express Concerns About Making Caregiver Program More Restrictive

Draft legislation that would expand the Family Caregiver Program but make eligibility for the program more restrictive raised concerns for several veterans’ groups.

April 2018

Military E-Prescriptions Exceed 50% Goal Set Three Years Ago

FALLS CHURCH, VA — As of January 2018, 54% of prescriptions filled by MTFs were submitted electronically, exceeding the initial goal of 50% set when the e-prescribing program first rolled out three years ago.

April 2018

Congress Seeks More Oversight of VA EHR Program

WASHINGTON — Legislation under consideration by Congress would increase oversight of VA’s adoption and implementation of its forthcoming electronic health record (EHR) system.

April 2018

White House Physician Nominated as VA Secretary After Shulkin Ouster

The nominee for new VA secretary has served as the White House physician for the last three presidential administrations.

Current Issue

Congress Urged to Find a Cost-Effective Way to Expand Benefits to Pre-9/11 Veteran Caregivers

WASHINGTON — Veterans from earlier eras should have expanded benefits related to family caregiver, but only if they are severely injured, VA officials have told Congress.

March 2018

Engineer Seeks to Make VAMCs More Energy Efficient Without Interrupting Their Mission

WASHINGTON—Anyone who’s ever worked in a hospital knows how much energy a facility of that size consumes. From the electricity to keep the lights on and the technology running to the water used to keep everything sterile, medical facilities can be far from energy efficient.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Cancer Patients Less Likely to Receive Excessive Care at End of Life

VA patients dying of cancer are far less likely to receive excessive and unnecessary end-of-life interventions than those treated by Medicare.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

New Executive Order Guarantees a Year of Mental Healthcare After Separation from Service

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order directing the DoD, VA and Homeland Security departments develop a plan to ensure that all new veterans receive mental healthcare for at least one year following their separation from service.

February 2018

San Diego Revises Alert System in Wake of Administration of Compromised Flu Vaccine

In the fall, failure of a pharmacy refrigerator and its monitoring system resulted in 1,540 veterans and staff receiving potentially ineffective shots.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Reduces Email Burden for Clinicians to Allow More Time, Focus on Patients

By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON—Concerned about how much time clinicians spend reading and responding to emails, the VA is changing its messaging system so that more of their focus can be on patient care. The... View Article

Current Issue

VA Promises Changes After Widespread Failure to Report Clinician Safety Issues

VA officials sought to reassure lawmakers that the agency is responding appropriately to an oversight report finding that several medical providers who gave harmful care to patients were never reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) or state licensing boards (SLB).

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Shortage of Supplies Might Have Delayed Medical Procedures at VAMCs

In response to complaints that clinicians at VAMCs lack adequate medical and surgical products to care for veterans, VA conceded it needs to make its product formulary more robust.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

GAO: Applications for VHA Healthcare Benefits Frequently Mishandled

VHA does not have the right protocols in place to ensure applications for enrollment are processed in a timely manner or that enrollment determinations are accurate, according to a new report.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA End-of-Life Care Push Increases Hospice Use Among Veterans

An intense effort by the VA to improve end-of-life care is paying off, with hospice use increasing more among veterans than nonveterans.

Department of Defense (DoD)

Army Pharmacy Finds Shorter Hours Reduces Wait Times

The pharmacy team at McDonald Army Health Center (MCAHC) on Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia had a common problem—longer than desired wait times for patients to pick up prescriptions.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Paliperidone Palmitate Helps Some Schizophrenia Patients

Even though nearly half of all patients diagnosed with schizophrenia have a history of substance abuse (SA), data on treatment of schizophrenia with paliperidone palmitate (PP) among patients with comorbid SA have been limited.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

How Do VA PCPs Respond to Insomnia Complaints?

Veterans have even higher rates of insomnia than other adults in the United States, and many seek treatment from their primary care physicians.

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)

Biomarkers Different in Acute HF Patients With, Without Diabetes

How diabetes affects pathophysiological processes among patients with acute heart failure (AHF) is unclear, according to a new study published in the European Journal of Heart Failure.1

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.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Leads Nation in Addressing Healthcare Disparities

Shifting demographics and commitment to creating an integrated network that combines community providers and VA facilities has propelled the agency into a leadership position in addressing the healthcare disparities that continue to cost lives and drive up medical expenses.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA’s ‘Homegrown’ Mailing Processes Raise Drug Diversion Concerns

Citing unreliable mail data and even the potential for drug diversion, lawmakers admonished VA to do a better job overseeing its mail system.

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.

Agencies Home

Severe Side Effects Rare in Elderly Veterans Receiving High Dose Influenza Vaccine

Patients over the age of 65 face an increased risk of severe complications and death if they contract influenza.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Altus AFB Pharmacy Speeds Care With Cold and Flu Packs

The program not only saves time, it also is saving money.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Transgenders in Military Debate Preceded Surprise Trump Announcement

President Donald Trump recently announced that he was reinstating a ban on transgenders in the military.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Barriers Fall for VA’s Ability to Provide Telehealth Across State Lines

President Donald Trump and VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, announced three initiatives that will expand access to health care for Veterans across the country.

Agencies Home

VA Makes Public List of Adverse Actions Against Employees

With persistent questions of accountability and transparency dogging VA in recent years, the agency became the first federal agency to post public information on disciplinary actions taken against employees.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Mail Order Pharmacy Policies Put Nearly Half of Veterans with HIV at Risk of Missing Doses

By Annette M. Boyle MADISON, WI—Antiretroviral medications have transformed HIV from a death sentence into a chronic disease, but the drugs’ effectiveness depends on rigorous adherence to sometimes-complex regimens. For veterans with HIV, adherence is... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

House Legislation Seeks to Modernize Veterans Appeals Process

A bill passed by the House of Representatives with strong bipartisan support will modernize the veterans’ appeals process, supporters maintained.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Phoenix VA Partners With CVS MinuteClinic to Provide In-Pharmacy Healthcare

When CVS Health became an authorized provider under the Veterans Choice Program, several VAMCs considered using the company’s retail medical clinic, MinuteClinic, to help relieve long waits and offer routine medical services nearer to veterans’ homes.

Cardiovascular Disease

VA Study: CV Risks Lower in Patients Taking NSAID, Misoprostol Combo

Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs has been linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular issues, but a new study offers a possible way to mitigate that factor.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Little Warning of CKD Progression in Veterans Using Proton Pump Inhibitors

While renal symptoms are a known side effect of proton pump inhibitors, the assumption always has been that the drugs could be discontinued before any lasting damage was done.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Podiatry Bill Raises Issue of Who Is Physician at VA

Who should be considered a physician at the VA? That question was discussed by lawmakers and advocacy groups in response to introduction of a recent bill that would revise current VA law to include podiatrists in the physician and dentist pay category.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VHA Compares Well to Other Health Systems for Patient Safety, Care Quality

Beginning last fall, VHA’s hospitals were included on the Hospital Compare website maintained by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), allowing direct comparison with other, nonfederal facilities.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Opts for Same EHR System Used by DoD Healthcare

Saying that he was not willing “to put this decision off any longer,” VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, announced that VA will adopt the same EHR system as DoD, now known as MHS GENESIS.

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.

Agencies Home

Veterans Choice Program Increases Burden on VA Pharmacists

The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act in 2014 allows veterans to receive covered care and prescriptions from non-VA providers in a variety of situations.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Veterans’ End-of-Life Preferences Not Well-Communicated to Surrogates

With a substantial number of older patients treated at the VA—more than 2 million World War II and Korean War veterans were among the patient population in 2015—how to manage their end-of-life care is an increasingly critical question.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Defends Crisis Line Amid Criticisms from Congress, Recent Reports

Despite criticism from recent government reports, VA officials insisted last month that the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) “is the strongest it has been since its inception in 2007.”

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Vows Quick Response to DC VAMC Patient Safety Issues

VA Secretary David Shulkin vowed last month that his agency will “act as rapidly as possible” to hold accountable those responsible for “serious and troubling deficiencies” at the DC VAMC.

Department of Defense (DoD)

Military Physicians Unprepared to Treat Transgender Patients as Deadline Approaches

When the DoD lifted the ban on transgender individuals serving in the armed forces last year, it set an aggressive goal of June 2017 for proficiency in treating personnel with gender dysphoria.

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

Agencies Home

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.

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 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.

April 2017

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.

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.

April 2017

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.

April 2017

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.

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