Non-Clinical Topics


Policy

Advocates Square Off Against VA on Women’s Veterans Task Force’s Role

WASHINGTON—It’s been nearly six months since the House VA Committee launched its bipartisan Women Veterans Task Force, and the result is a legislative docket filled with bills geared toward ensuring VA has the resources it... View Article

Policy

VBA Improves Oversight of Outside Contractors But Some Gaps Remain

WASHINGTON—Nearly a year after a Government Accountability Office report revealed that the Veterans’ Benefit Administration had been unable to track the quality, accuracy, and timeliness of the outside contractors hired to conduct compensation and pension... View Article

Policy

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

Policy

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

Policy

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

Policy

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

Policy

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

Policy

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

Policy

Unions Go to Court to Stop VA Changes in ‘Official Time’ Policy

VA's announcement that it would eliminate paid union-related official time for medical professionals, as of Nov. 15, has drawn a lawsuit from unions representing the agency's employees.

Policy

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.

Policy

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.

Policy

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.

Policy

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

Policy

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).

Policy

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.

Policy

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.

Policy

NIH Releases Strategic Plan for Obesity Research

WASHINGTON—Recent months have seen a reinvigorated commitment to research targeted at curbing the obesity epidemic in the United States, including a number of completed studies from VA and DoD and the release of a new... View Article

Policy

In Effort to Reduce Costly Medical Errors, Military Facilities Set Up Anonymous Reporting

WASHINGTON—A study published in the April issue of Health Affairs found that medical errors cost the United States more than $17 billion a year. And, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, medical... View Article

Policy

VA Improves Follow-up In Colon Cancer Screening But Still Falls Short of Goal

WASHINGTON—In 2005, VA initiated a Colon Cancer Care Collaborative (C4) to help improve the timeliness of follow-up after positive fecal blood occult tests (FOBT). The initiative was in reaction to studies released at the time... View Article

Policy

Schoomaker: Military Personnel Left Confused by Different Evaluation Systems at VA, DoD

WASHINGTON—Despite significant efforts by DoD and VA to revamp the disability evaluation process, the new system remains “complex and adversarial,” the top Army doctor told a congressional subcommittee. DoD and VA agreed on a new... View Article

Policy

New House Bill Seeks to Relax Benefit Requirements for Victims of Military Sexual-Assault-Related PTSD

WASHINGTON—In June 2010, legislation was passed making it considerably easier for veterans diagnosed with PTSD to receive service-connected benefits and care from VA. Prior to the law’s passage, veterans were required to show a diagnosis... View Article

Policy

Study: Resistant Infections Plummet at VA Hospitals Because of MRSA Initiative

WASHINGTON—A nationwide initiative by VA to reduce the spread of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) within its facilities has resulted in a dramatic drop of more than 60% in hospital-acquired infections in less than three... View Article

Policy

Army Battles Sexual Assault Within Troops, Improves Follow-Up Care of Victims

WASHINGTON—Not that long ago, a woman who had been sexually assaulted might have gone to an Army Military Treatment Facility (MTF), had a forensic examination and then would go home without anyone at the MTF... View Article

Policy

New Forms Document Radiation Exposure for U.S. Military Personnel, Families in Japan During Disaster

WASHINGTON—Military personnel and dependents who were in radiation-exposed areas in Japan during the massive earthquake, tsunami and partial nuclear reactor meltdown are being asked to fill out forms available at MTFs to document their presence... View Article

Policy

Despite Success in Managing Warfarin Usage, VA’s Anticoagulation Units’ Role Likely to Change With New Drugs

Some 148,000 patients in the VA system receive anticoagulation therapy to prevent and treat cardiac disease, stroke and deep vein thrombosis (DVT), but the primary anticoagulation drug, Warfarin, which has been in use since the... View Article

Policy

With 90% of U.S. Influenza Deaths in Elderly, New High Dose Vaccine Seeks Lower Mortality, Morbidity Rates

Despite the widespread availability of seasonal flu vaccines, influenza continues to be responsible for significant morbidity and mortality in the United States. Each year, influenza causes 3.1 million hospitalization days and 34.1 million outpatient visits... View Article

Policy

Although Herpes Zoster Rates Have Nearly Doubled in VA, Vaccination Levels Remain Extremely Low

The incidence of herpes zoster (shingles) in veterans seeking care at VA hospitals continues its steady increase, rising even since a 2010 report documented a near doubling of the rate using VHA Decision Support System... View Article

Policy

Union Says Budget Proposal Increase Won’t Ease Strain on VA Medical Personnel

WASHINGTON, DC—Even though the overall 2012 budget request for VA includes $50.9 billion for medical care— a net increase of $240 million over the 2012 advance appropriations request of $50.6 billion in the 2011 budget—union... View Article

Policy

While Most Central Line Bloodstream Infections Decline, Kidney Dialysis Bucks The Trend

WASHINGTON, DC—With a decline in the number of central line associate bloodstream infections in intensive care units, the focus is turning to an area where such infections are burgeoning – kidney dialysis clinics. The CDC... View Article

Policy

Legislators Call for Hearings On VA Infection Control Lapses, Hepatitis Cases

DAYTON, OH—In the latest VA infection control lapse to come under public scrutiny, Ohio-based legislators are pushing for both U.S. House and Senate investigations into practices at a Dayton VAMC dental clinic that may have... View Article

Policy

List of Goals Guiding VA, DoD in Integrating Mental Health Care

WASHINGTON, DC—VHA and DoD have already recognized that they serve the same patients, just at different times during their lives. But it is only during the last few years that the two departments have thought... View Article

Policy

Republican-Led VA Committee Sets Oversight Agenda

WASHINGTON, DC—At the top of the agenda for the 112th Congress’s House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC ) is stricter oversight of VA, something that the new Republican leader of the committee believes has been allowed... View Article

Policy

Military Leaders Emphasize Need to Build Resilience in Troops and Families

WASHINGTON, DC—Building resilience in servicemembers must start when they enter basic training and must include their families, said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm Michael Mullen. Mullen spoke at the annual Warrior... View Article

Policy

VA Perfecting Disease Management System for COPD

MINNEAPOLIS, MN—The difficulty with treating COPD—as with any chronic disease—is that much of the care must be placed in the hands of the patient. The patient needs to be properly educated about their illness, not... View Article

Policy

Military Tackles COPD Care

WASHINGTON, DC—In 2005, CDC estimates COPD caused an estimated 126,005 deaths in people 25 years and older in the US. This was an 8% increase from 116,494 in the year 2000. Just as COPD is... View Article

Policy

Future of Genome Research: More Therapies, Scarcer Funding

BETHESDA, MD—This past October saw the 20th anniversary of the start of the Human Genome Project; and this year marks the 10th anniversary of the publishing of the draft human genome sequence. To commemorate what... View Article

Policy

DoD Officials Develop New Psychological Policy Initiatives

WASHINGTON, DC—DoD officials are developing new psychological health initiatives that they hope will fill gaps in delivering and coordinating psychological care. One initiative in development will bolster disaster mental health assistance on installations after an... View Article

Policy

Surgeon General Urges Call to Action on Breastfeeding

WASHINGTON, DC—Despite ample evidence that breastfeeding a child for the first six months of his or her life provides benefits that far outweigh those gained by formula feeding, the majority of American mothers abandon breastfeeding... View Article

Policy

Outreach and Communication Key to Fighting Vet Homelessness

WASHINGTON, DC—When VA Secretary Eric Shinseki took his post nearly two years ago, he learned that veterans lead the nation in homelessness, depression, substance abuse, and suicide. “It was like a punch in the gut,”... View Article

Policy

NIH Funds Help DCVAMC, Partners Tackle Health Disparities

WASHINGTON, DC—“Historically, it takes many years and lots of research money to go from the initial concept—an idea created in a lab—to the few of those trials that are successful and actually change clinical practice,”... View Article

Policy

Pharmacogenomic Advances Result in Label Changes Decades after Approval

BETHESDA, MD—Even drugs that have been on the market for years, sometimes decades, are not immune from reexamination and relabeling brought about by new scientific discoveries. In the field of pharmacogenomics especially, new opportunities are... View Article

Policy

Military Challenged to Provide Far-Forward Mental Health Care

BETHESDA, MD—For a handful of military mental health providers on the front lines, treating combat stress and trauma is an everyday occurrence. The military has begun to realize that the advice and care they furnish... View Article

Policy

Surgeon General Report Details the Biology of Smoking Damage

WASHINGTON, DC—While the overall negative health effects of smoking have been common knowledge for many years, a newly-released Surgeon General’s report goes into unprecedented detail on how tobacco causes disease at a biological and behavioral... View Article

Policy

Taking Smoking Cessation to All Care Settings, VA Lowers Smoking Rate

WASHINGTON, DC—No one has ever said that quitting smoking was easy. For servicemembers and veterans, who may already be under considerable stress, giving up something they perceive as relieving their stress can be especially tough.... View Article

Policy

Combining Smoking Cessation with PTSD Therapy Boosts Quit Rates

WASHINGTON, DC—Smoking cessation treatment that is made part of mental healthcare for veterans with PTSD improves quit rates, according to a VA study published in the December 8 Journal of the American Medical Association. “The... View Article

Policy

NIH Director Supports Dissolution of NIDA, NIAAA and Creation of Single Addiction Institute

BETHESDA, MD—NIH is examining the possibility of creating a single institute for substance use, abuse, and addiction research. The new institute would combine the relevant research portfolios dealing with those issues currently under the purview... View Article

Policy

Worldwide HIV Elimination Difficult but Necessary, Leading Researcher Contends

—————————————— We Want to Hear From You Has globalization increased our ability to fight disease, our vulnerability to disease, or both?Please click here to participate in this month’s U.S. Medicine readership poll. BETHESDA, MD— “In... View Article

Policy

IHS Tackles HIV Issues with Online Training and New Initiatives

WASHINGTON, DC—Providers play an important role in HIV prevention and care, and IHS is hoping to help providers carry out that role through online training that was developed last year. IHS in collaboration with community... View Article

Policy

New Training Guides Medical Personnel in Administering Mental Health Assessments

WASHINGTON, DC—DoD is providing new online training to its medical personnel for administering deployment mental health assessments to deploying and returning servicemembers. The revamped mental health assessments focus on PTSD, depression, and substance abuse problems.... View Article

Policy

IT Project Failures Spur Continued Reform in VA

WASHINGTON, DC—Concerned about several high-profile, high-cost IT project failures over the last several years, legislators called VA officials to Capital Hill last month to provide reassurance that the agency has learned from its past mistakes.... View Article

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