Coming up in my particular neighborhood in Little Rock, Ark., one of my dearest childhood friends was a boy we nicknamed something unflattering but — except for the meanest among us kids — treated with great kindness. He was “just slow,” we said, and left it at that.
The armchair analyst in me concluded, when we were teens, that my friend was mildly retarded (in the vernacular of that time). He also suffered sometimes-paralyzing bouts of depression. All these decades later, he remains a beloved treasure. I call him brother. He’s still a fixture in our hometown neighborhood, self-medicating with weed and, sometimes, crack. He’s snaggle-toothed, his skin an ashen gray. He looks way older than the rest of us. People with chronic, severe mental illness tend to die earlier than the rest of us. Continue reading
Surgery research can become complex very quickly: Not only are there the underlying conditions and demographics of each patient to consider, but also different characteristics particular to the procedure itself, the circumstances of the procedure, the institution and the providers doing the procedure.
If you frequently report on surgery studies, you may have covered a study that used data from the Veterans Affairs Surgical Quality Improvement Program (VASQIP).
Participants in a dental benefit plan for U.S. military retirees will need to take action soon to hold onto coverage.
The TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP), which now covers 1.6 million military retirees and family members, is shutting down at the end of the year. Continue reading
Ever since the passage of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, federal policy has held that marijuana has no accepted medical use and is a dangerous drug in the category of heroin and LSD. Yet, as 29 states have approved marijuana for medical use and nine passed laws allowing for adult recreational use, modern medical marijuana clinical trials have unfolded in the United States, forging new frontiers in cannabis research.
Today’s research, as well as the thriving legal marijuana economy, is largely the result of a medical cannabis movement born in the AIDS epidemic and the suffering of young gay men, many of whom turned to cannabis to try to curb wrenching symptoms of wasting syndrome starving them to skeletal forms. Continue reading
On Thursday, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, M.D., and President Trump announced three initiatives to expand telehealth and mobile health services for veterans.
The announcement is notable because the initiatives remove some longstanding roadblocks to wider adoption of telehealth services. The VA has the largest telehealth program in the country, with an estimated 700,000 veterans using telehealth last year. Continue reading
Last week’s announcement that the Department of Veterans Affairs would replace its homegrown electronic health record system VistA with a Cerner product came ahead of the expected July 1 deadline for a decision on the matter.
The move made waves in the health IT sector for several reasons. Most notably, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, M.D., chose to invoke a “public interest exception” in the Cerner pick, bypassing the usual competitive bidding process for government contracts. Continue reading