Articles Posted in Military Medicine

denismcdonough-150x150One of the nation’s largest health care systems had its ambitious plans to reshape itself for the 21st century torpedoed by a dozen members of the U.S. Senate, with taxpayers and veterans left in the lurch with great uncertainty about the future medical care for those who valiantly have served this country.

Just a few weeks ago, Denis McDonough, the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (shown right), met a deadline from Congress to detail significant shifts in how his sprawling agency cares for former military personnel and their families.

He provided a proposal — a plan only — to shut many of the VA’s 1,200 big, aging hospitals and clinics or slash services there, shifting to smaller facilities, and refocusing the agency’s caregiving to parts of the country where its patients live. His plans and the future of VA care, which already have been under study for at least four years, were then to be taken up by a blue-ribbon group, the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission. The commission then would have reported back to Congress for possible action.

deptvetaffairslogo-300x183One of the largest, most important health care systems in the country has plans in the works for a huge revamp, including shutting down many of its big, aging hospitals or slashing services there, shifting to smaller clinics, and refocusing its caregiving to parts of the country where its patients live.

Taxpayers will want to pay attention to these plans because they will pay tens of billions of dollars for them — likely with gratitude. That’s because this reimagined system provides care to millions of current and past U.S. service personnel and their families and is best known as the VA, aka the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Washington Post reported.

The Biden Administration has launched the VA on potentially decades of changes in the way it provides the nation’s sacred commitment to those who have fought with honor for their country and earned the right to quality care for what can be considerable, long-term health needs.

brucemoskowitz-150x150A trio of former President Trump’s country club friends planned to use the clout he gave them over the Department of Veteran Affairs to set up a potentially enriching scheme to exploit the confidential, personal medical records of millions of U.S. veterans and their families, documents show.

Congressional Democrats, now leading key House committees, have rebuked the three for even suggesting the plan. They were Trump acquaintances from his country club who were given sweeping influence over the VA and were known to lawful government officials as “the Mar-a-Lago crowd.”

The trio — Ike Perlmutter, Bruce Moskowitz (shown above), and Marc Sherman — never served in the U.S. military. They’re not veterans. Perlmutter and Sherman had zero experience in health care. And Moskowitz, while a doctor, is a primary care practitioner — not someone known for his direct experience in running big, complex operations.

btallycongresswork-300x240Congress has given U.S. service personnel slightly improved help if they find they have been harmed while receiving military medical care and want to pursue justice via legal actions.

Lawmakers, as part of a big bill at year’s end dealing with many different matters affecting the Department of Veterans Affairs, also quietly approved legal provisions that were part of the eponymous Brian Tally VA Employment Transparency Act. These were signed into law by President Trump before he left office.

The Military Times describes these new requirements for the giant veterans’ health agency:

dcvafacility-300x185Veterans Affairs officials are taking yet more fire over medical services provided at the sprawling agency’s facilities:

bookingpicretamays-150x150She was a 46-year-old Army veteran hired by the Louis A. Johnson Medical Center in 2015 with no certification or license to care for patients. Reta Mays worked in the middle of the night, tending to elderly, onetime service personnel, sitting bedside and monitoring their vitals, including their blood sugar levels. Mays went room to room, largely unnoticed for three years on Ward 3A.

But as unexplained deaths mounted on the surgical unit between 2017 and 2018, the bespectacled mother of three — who had served in the Army National Guard and had deployed to Iraq and Kuwait — shifted from being a nurse’s aide to becoming a murder suspect.

She now has confirmed in court that she injected multiple doses of insulin in at least seven patients in the rural Veterans Affairs hospital a few hours away from the nation’s capital, causing the frail victims’ blood glucose levels to plunge in fatal fashion.

blmdckoshukunii-240x300Just as law enforcement authorities find themselves under fire for instances of racist, excessive uses of force, police agencies across the country seem hell-bent on giving critics more and more evidence for their argument that major policing reforms are needed.

The independent, nonpartisan Kaiser Health News Service and USA Today deserve credit for scrutinizing dozens of incidents involving officials’ actions nationwide against people protesting the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd. As the news organizations reported (and in passages worth quoting at length):

“In a joint investigation into law enforcement actions at protests across the country after George Floyd’s death in police custody, KHN and USA TODAY found that some officers appear to have violated their department’s own rules when they fired ‘less lethal’ projectiles at protesters who were for the most part peacefully assembled. Critics have assailed those tactics as civil rights and First Amendment violations, and three federal judges have ordered temporary restrictions on their use.

RobertWilkieVA-150x150One of the nation’s largest health systems faces yet more serious questions about its leadership and external meddling in the quality and safety of its care. So, once again taxpayers may be asking themselves, with anger, What the heck is going on now at the top of the Department of Veterans Affairs?

Internal watchdogs have formally opened an investigation of Roger Wilkie, the VA’s chief, over allegations that he used his office and authority to dig up dirt on a Democratic aide who complained that she had been propositioned and groped by a man in the main lobby of the Medical Center here in the District of Columbia.

The claims were investigated, and authorities declined to pursue it further, including with the filing of any charges.

cdctbi-300x213The nation’s commander-in-chief did a big disservice to recently injured service personnel and others who have suffered traumatic brain injuries by dismissing what happened as “not very serious” and just “headaches” of little consequence.

Pentagon officials sought to deflect attention from President Trump’s comments at a global economic forum in Davos, Switzerland — off-the-cuff remarks assailed by veteran groups.

Trump, asked about the rising number of service personnel who have been sent for advanced diagnosis and treatment at facilities outside the Mideast, where they were subjected to an Iranian missile attack, made this counter factual comment:

crashempirestatebldg-240x300The U.S. government is on the brink of giving active duty military personnel half a legal loaf when it comes to a fundamental constitutional right — their chance to seek justice in the civil courts if they suffer harms while receiving medical services in noncombat situations.

If the U.S. Senate approves, as expected, a House-passed measure, and it is signed by the president, as he has said he will, active military members soon may be able to make medical malpractice claims, as they couldn’t before. But the disputes won’t be decided in the civil justice system. Instead, they will stay under military control.

That’s far less than ideal. To understand why, and how this compromise got struck, it’s necessary to dive a little into federal law.

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