Agencies



Department of Defense (DoD)

New Comprehensive VA/DoD Guideline Seeks to Stem Tide of Suicides

Servicemembers, Veterans Take Their Own Lives at Higher Rates WASHINGTON—In recent decades, suicide rates have soared in the United States, increasing 25% from 1999 to 2016. The issue has been especially acute among military servicemembers... View Article

Current Issue

VA Facing Critical Healthcare Staffing Shortages in Near Future

Replacing Retirees Hampered by Lower Salaries WASHINGTON—Oversight agencies are sounding the alarm that VA is plagued with large staffing shortages in critical areas, including physicians, registered nurses, physician assistants, psychologists and physical therapists, as well... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Processes Similar in Schizophrenia, Psychotic Biopolar Disorder

NASHVILLE, TN—Processes leading to impairment in schizophrenia and psychotic bipolar disorder might be more similar than previously assumed, according to a new study. The report in Schizophrenia Research pointed out that neuropsychological impairment is common... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Some Veterans Want Family Involved With Mental Health Treatment

LOS ANGELES—One of the most difficult issues in caring for adults with severe mental illness, including at the VA, is balancing privacy regulations with family members’ desire to be in the know. A study published... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Military Risks for Ocular Surface Squamous Neoplasia

MIAMI—While a variety of risk factors have been evaluated in ocular surface squamous neoplasia, few studies have assessed risk factors specific to the armed forces veteran population. A report in the journal Eye and Vision... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Lower Dose Cisplatin Preferable in Squamous Cell Carcinoma

PHILADELPHIA—Chemoradiotherapy is commonly used for nonoperative treatment of locally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. The issue, according to a recent study, is that the standard dose of 100 mg/m2 cisplatin every three weeks is... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Concerns About GI Events Continue With Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate

About 9,000 Veterans Were Prescribed Drug for Hyperkalemia OTTAWA, ONTARIO—Continuing concerns are being raised about the gastrointestinal safety of sodium polystyrene sulfonate, which is commonly prescribed for the treatment of hyperkalemia. The issue is of... View Article

Army

Army Conducts First-in-Human Trial of MERS Coronavirus Vaccine

SILVER SPRING, MD—Middle East respiratory syndrome emerged first in Saudi Arabia in 2012 before spreading to several other countries, including a major outbreak in South Korea. In total, the MERS coronavirus infected more than 2,200... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Research: High-Dose Flu Vaccine Reduces Hospitalizations, Saves Money

But It’s Not Offered by the VA This Year WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, VT—The high-dose influenza vaccine is more effective and less expensive for the VA than the standard dose vaccine for veterans over age 65,... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

What Will Be Cost of VA’s Legacy EHR System During Changeover?

GAO Suggests VistA Will Be Around for Next Decade WASHINGTON—As VA moves forward with the comprehensive overhaul of its electronic health records system, the department will still need to keep its legacy EHR system functioning... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Five Miles High? VA Document Backlog Is Stacking Up, OIG Reports

WASHINGTON—If stacked, VA’s backlog of paper medical documents that are waiting to be digitalized—most generated by veterans’ visits to non-VA providers—would be over 5 miles high, according to a report from the VA inspector general.... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Year Supply of Contraceptives Prevents More Unintended Pregnancies

Birth Control Pill Change Could Save VA $2 Million Annually PITTSBURGH—What if there was a method to prevent nearly 600 unintended pregnancies and save the VA about $2 million a year in prenatal, birth and... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Says It Is Working to Resolve Whistleblower Retaliation Issues

WASHINGTON—According to VA officials, the agency is well on its way to creating a culture that will allow whistleblowers to feel safe to report facility problems without fear of retaliation from supervisors. Yet, whistleblower advocates... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Genetic Mutations Affecting Response to Drugs Are Common in Veterans

VA Debates Who Should Receive Pharmacogenetic Testing SALT LAKE CITY—A massive VA study revealed that 99% of veterans have at least one genetic mutation known to affect response to specific drugs, including some commonly prescribed... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Feds Investigate 11 Unexplained Deaths at West Virginia VAMC

CLARKSBURG, WV – Law enforcement officials announced recently that a criminal investigation has been launched to look into the unexplained deaths of as many as 11 patients at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Pathologist Indicted In Connection Veteran Deaths in Arkansas

Investigators Say Impaired Clinician Recorded Wrong Diagnoses FAYETTEVILLE, AR – A physician employed by the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks here was indicted by a federal grand jury on a range of charges,... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

GAO: VA Still Lags in Ability to Track Veteran Wait Times for Care

WASHINGTON—Five years after scandal rocked the VA, the agency still does not have a reliable way of tracking patient wait times according to a recent Government Accountability Office report. In 2014, whistleblowers at the Phoenix... View Article

August 2019

Ensuring Community Providers Meet Veteran Suicide Prevention Standards

WASHINGTON—As leaders from across multiple federal agencies begin work on a roadmap to combat veteran suicide, they are searching for ways to turn existing efforts in towns, cities, counties and neighborhoods across the country into... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Manages Drug Costs Better than Medicare Part D

ST. LOUIS – Medicare Part D could save more than $14 billion annually if it paid the same prices for top medications as the VA, according to a new study. A research letter published earlier... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

House Passes Bill to Create Education/Employment Arm of VA

WASHINGTON,—Legislators have reintroduced plans to create a fourth administration within the Department of Veterans Affairs—one dedicated to overseeing veterans’ education, transition and employment benefits. Currently these operations fall under the Veterans Benefits Administration, with VBA... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Administrative Confusions Results in Little Oversight of VA’s Police Force

Suicides, Violence at VMACs Put Spotlight on Security WASHINGTON—As the number of suicides and other violent incidents at VA facilities grows, a spotlight is being thrown on VA’s internal police force and its ability to... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Veterans Using Dual Health Systems Have More Problems With Medications

CHARLESTON, SC—More than half of the patients treated by VA are also Medicare eligible, and that is increasing the risk for a range of prescription medication problems—from chronic disease medication nonadherence to opioid overdoses—among dual... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

All VA Healthcare Facilities to Be Completely Smoke-Free by October

New Directive Abolishes Designated Smoking Zones WASHINGTON—Starting in October, all VA healthcare facilities will be official no-smoking zones. While VA now permits smoking in designated areas, the department has issued a new policy restricting smoking... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Isn’t Addressing Recommendations by Oversight Agencies

Too Many Leadership Vacancies Are Part of the Problem WASHINGTON—Deeply ingrained management problems are preventing VA from addressing priority recommendations from oversight agencies, leaving the department with long-standing weaknesses in its healthcare and disability benefits... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA MRSA Prevention Program Successfully Reduced Cases 43%

CDC, VA Authors Reject Calls to Lessen Interventions SALT LAKE CITY—Concerned about methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, one of the most common causes of healthcare-associated infections, the VA piloted a MRSA prevention program in 18 VAMCs beginning... View Article

Current Issue

VA Study Raises Questions About Value of Readmission Metrics

SAN FRANCISCO—While the VA performs well overall on key 30-day readmission rates, a study by researchers at the San Francisco VAMC questioned the utility of the measures for most of the health system’s hospitals. The... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Three VAMC Campus Suicides in a Week Heighten Concerns About Prevention

WASHINGTON—Concern over the rate of veteran suicides reached a fever pitch last month after three veterans took their lives at VA facilities over a span of five days. Two of the deaths occurred in Georgia—one... View Article

Current Issue

VA Reverses Stance, Won’t Challenge ‘Blue Water’ Veteran Court Ruling

WASHINGTON—In an about-face, the VA will recommend that the federal government not challenge a recent court decision ruling that the department cannot deny benefits to Vietnam-era Blue Water Navy veterans claiming Agent Orange exposure. The... View Article

April 2019

VA Continues Efforts to Reduce Drug Diversion; Focuses on Opiates

WASHINGTON—In the past two years, the VA has implemented a nine-step process to minimize drug diversion, but cases continue to slip through. In December 2018, the VA’s Office of the Inspector General reported two instances... View Article

April 2019

VA Struggles to Overcome Women’s Healthcare Disparities

WASHINGTON—VA is straining its capacity and struggling against a culture that can sometimes be hostile to women as it responds to what VA officials consider a “tsunami wave of women veterans” over the last decade.... View Article

April 2019

VA Researcher Seeks to Include Veterans’ Voices in Healthcare Decisions

SEATTLE—It’s a big job to ensure that VA’s healthcare system is equipped to provide the best possible care to veterans. It might be an even bigger job to make sure that veterans across the country... View Article

April 2019

House Committee Looks at Influence Trump Friends Have Had on VA

WASHINGTON—Three months into the new Democrat-led Congress, legislators are continuing to press VA on possible misconduct by high-level VA employees and consultants. That includes expanding the investigation into VA’s relationship with civilian advisers conducting meetings... View Article

Current Issue

VA Announces Proposed Standards for Access to Mission Act Outside Care

WASHINGTON—VA has released its proposed new access standards, defining new eligibility criteria for veterans seeking care by non-VA providers. The standards are part of the VA MISSION Act signed into law in June 2018, and... View Article

Current Issue

VA Announces New Partnerships to Expand Telehealth Services

WASHINGTON.—VA Secretary Robert Wilkie announced new partnerships with several prominent companies and veterans’ organizations to make access to health services easier for veterans, regardless of their location. Collaborators announced at the recent Anywhere to Anywhere,... View Article

Current Issue

VA Fails to Use All Outreach Resources to Combat Veteran Suicide

Despite declaring veteran suicide as its No. 1 clinical priority, VA’s suicide prevention outreach efforts dropped off in 2017 and 2018, and a lack of clear goals and inconsistent leadership has impacted its success, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

Current Issue

Disabled Veteran Helps Others Like Her Get Back Into the Workforce

Ten years ago, Coniece Washington was walking through the Washington, DC, VA Medical Center when she saw a job notice tacked to a board: certified rehabilitation counselor.

Current Issue

Senate Blocks Agent Orange Exposure Extension to Blue Water Veterans

Blue Water Navy veterans who claim to be impacted by toxic exposure while serving off the coast of Vietnam were forced to grapple with disappointment once again as the 115th Congress ended without passing legislation addressing their VA benefits.

Current Issue

VA: Oversight Improving for Questionable Contracted Disability Exams

A recent audit by the Government Accountability Office has lawmakers and veterans service organizations frustrated with the Veterans Benefits Administration’s inability to track the quality of work done by outside contractors and concerned that veterans have not been receiving accurate disability ratings.

Current Issue

VA ‘On Track’ for Appeals Reform; GAO Questions Timetable

VA is “on track” to implement a law designed to give veterans more options to have their claims appeals reviewed, as well as speed up the process, agency officials assured lawmakers last month.

Current Issue

Senate VA Committee Chair Vows to Pass ‘Blue Water’ Navy Benefits

Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs Chairman Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) vowed that addressing benefits for Blue Water Navy Veterans “is no longer going to be a question,” but that “how we do it is the only question.”

August 2018

VHA Makes Progress in Improving Safety of Opioid Prescribing

VHA medical facilities should ensure that its providers are following three key opioid risk mitigation strategies, including conducting urine drug screening, a recent report recommended.

Current Issue

VA faces healthcare staffing shortages, barriers to hiring facility leaders

A facility-specific survey found that 138 of 140 VA facilities reported shortages of medical officers, with psychiatry and primary care positions being the most frequently listed.

Current Issue

Veteran nephrologist labors to improve ESRD treatment at VA

When Terrence O’Neil, MD, retired as chief of nephrology at the James H. Quillen VAMC in Johnson City in December 2016, he left in his wake decades of work treating kidney disease—nearly 35 years in the Air Force and DoD, plus 11 more at VA.

Current Issue

Committee approves bill to provide agent orange benefits to ‘blue water’ vets

A long sought-after bill that would make it easier for Blue Water Navy veterans to receive Agent Orange benefits has been passed by a key House of Representatives committee.

Current Issue

DoD acknowledges its medical adverse event reporting is ‘unreliable’

The process for tracking the DoD’s most serious adverse medical events is “fragmented, impeding the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) ability to ensure that it has received complete information,” according to a new review.

Current Issue

Automation Speeds Results and Increases Accuracy for Point-of-Care Testing at Walter Reed NMMC

With a long history of point of care testing at both of its predecessor organizations, the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) laboratory services staff were keenly aware of the advantages of using portable testing devices to obtain rapid patient assessments.

Current Issue

Bill to Streamline, Expand VA’s Choice Program Signed Into Law

Legislation that would streamline VA’s community care programs into one program and expand VA’s caregiver program to veterans of all eras was signed into law earlier this month..

Current Issue

Despite Criticism, VA Healthcare as Good or Better Than Other Systems

The good news from a recent consultant study is that, overall, the VA healthcare system is generally equal or better than others when inpatient and outpatient quality is measured.

Current Issue

VA Inks Contract for Massive New Health Record System

Calling it one of the largest IT contracts in the federal government, with a ceiling of $10 billion over a decade, then-VA Acting Secretary Robert Wilkie announced that the agency signed a contract with Cerner for its new electronic health record (EHR).

Current Issue

Surprise! President Nominates Wilkie for Permanent VA Secretary

President Donald Trump said last month that acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie “has done an incredible job” and, in a surprise move, nominated him for the permanent Cabinet position.

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