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Non-Clinical Topics


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VHA Accountability Unclear for Assuring Medical Equipment Sterility

Who is responsible for VHA's sterile processing reusable medical equipment is unclear, and the lack of accountability needs to be addressed, agency officials told lawmakers.

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House Passes Bill to Improve Hiring, Retention at VHA

A three-year pilot program to provide undergraduate students a clinical observation experience within VA is called for in a bill recently passed by the House of Representatives.

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Legislators Question Governance of VA EHR Implementation

How much will implementation and integration of a new electronic health record slow down processes at the VA, which already struggles with delays in care?

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No Prior Mental Health Diagnosis for Many Soldiers Attempting Suicide

While mental health conditions are a strong predictor of who is likely to try to take their own life, that doesn't account for a sizeable percentage of soldiers at risk of suicide, according to a new study.

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Lawmakers Continue to Push VA to Meet Benefits Modernization Deadline

VA remains on track for implementing its new disability appeals system by the February 2019 deadline, VA officials told lawmakers at a recent hearing.

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Despite Unanimous House Support, VA Opposes ‘Blue Water’ Legislation

VA officials told lawmakers last month that it opposes a bill that would expand the presumption of Agent Orange exposure to Vietnam veterans who served offshore because the "science is not there."

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DC VAMC Resolves Some of ‘Dysfunction’ Cited By VA Inspector General

The DC VAMC has addressed or resolved six of 25 recommendations made by the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) and is working to resolve the remaining ones, the facility announced last month.

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Milwaukee VA Specialist Seeks to Make Radiology More Patient-Friendly

Ian Weissman, a radiologist with the Milwaukee VA, can trace his desire to be a doctor back to one source. “I grew up watching 'The Waltons.' There, the primary care doc was part of the community,” he explained. “That was my dream.”

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As DHA Takes More Control, Military Medicine Undergoes Changes

In a bill recently signed into law, Congress signaled its intent to give the Defense Health Agency (DHA) greater control over the administration of military health care and medical research.

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VA Vows to Stop Whistleblower Retaliation; Some Lawmakers Skeptical

VA leaders said loud and clear that the agency “will not tolerate” whistleblower retaliation.

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VA Surgeon Sees His Role as ‘Pillar of Hope’ for Veteran Patients

The theme of this year’s Harlem Fine Arts Show—the largest touring African diasporic art show in the United States—is “Health and the Healing Power of Art.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Transgenders in Military Debate Preceded Surprise Trump Announcement

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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?”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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VA Accountability Tops Legislative List in New Congress

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

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