VA's medical inspector steps down

Dr. John Pierce, the director of the VA's medical inspector office, had served in that role since 2004, and is the fifth senior official at the VA to step down during the past six weeks. Also, stories look at how lawmakers are trying to reform the VA, and just why the VA was developed 100 years ago.

The New York Times: After Criticism, Investigator Steps Down From The V.A.
The head of the Department of Veterans Affairs' medical investigation unit has stepped down, the department announced Wednesday, just days after a federal watchdog sharply criticized the department for failing to adequately investigate allegations of poor care within its sprawling hospital system. The official, Dr. John R. Pierce, who had been director of the department's office of medical inspector, is the fifth senior V.A. official to depart in the past six weeks (Oppel, 7/2).

Associated Press: VA Medical Inspector Retires After Scathing Report 
The chief medical inspector for the Department of Veterans Affairs has retired, following a report that his office downplayed whistleblower complaints outlining serious problems at VA facilities across the country, acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said Wednesday. Dr. John R. Pierce had served as medical inspector since 2004 and was deputy medical inspector for two years before that. Pierce's office came under scrutiny last week, after the independent Office of Special Counsel issued a scathing report that identified "a troubling pattern of deficient patient care" at VA facilities around the country. The problems were pointed out by whistleblowers but downplayed by the medical inspector and other top officials, the report said (Daly, 7/2). 

Politico: Reforming The VA One Step At A Time
Congress is poised to pass the most significant reforms to the Department of Veterans Affairs in nearly two decades -- but don't expect quick fixes to the layers of rot at the agency. The House and Senate have passed bills responding to revelations that veterans died after the VA delayed providing medical care. But the measures don't change the VA employees' habit of gaming the system, covering up problems and punishing whistleblowers who try to sound the alarm -; the "corrosive culture" that White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors warned about in a report to President Barack Obama last week (Nather, 7/2).

The Arizona Republic: Why Was The VA Created 100 Years Ago, Anyway?
The VA's health-care system has never been perfect. But it has had its benefits. When veterans returning from America's wars threatened to overwhelm the civilian health-care system, the VA was seen as a savior. Veterans, meanwhile, found themselves in hospitals recuperating among their own. As recently as 15 years ago, it also was heralded as a leading and innovative health-care provider after Kenneth Kizer, then-undersecretary for health, imposed sweeping reforms that decentralized care into clinics and improved coordination of VA services. But its reputation has since crumbled (Lee, 7/2). 

And a host of wounded, young veterans are pushing military medicine to accommodate their desire for an active life --

Associated Press: Young, Active War Wounded Pushing Medical Science 
The blood is not the most jarring part of the photograph taken shortly after the bomb blew off Marine Gunnery Sgt. Brian Meyer's leg and hand. It's his smile. The bomb technician had asked a team member to take the picture. He knew his defiance in the face of death would keep his comrades going and ease the torment caused by what they had witnessed. His attitude set the tone for the long journey the double amputee is taking along with nearly 2,000 troops who lost one or more limbs from combat injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's also pushing military medicine to find better ways to accommodate such a large population of young, severely disabled combat veterans who want to maintain an active lifestyle. Many wear out their prosthetic limbs in a matter of months doing everything from mountain climbing to running marathons (Watson, 7/3).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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