Some veterans, troops turn to ketamine clinics before studies are complete | Troops, veterans might not get to use commercial health app | Army sees progress in curbing troops' opioid use
February 7, 2018
AMSUS SmartBrief
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Some veterans, troops turn to ketamine clinics before studies are complete
The DOD and VA are conducting clinical trials of ketamine to treat depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in active-duty troops and veterans, but some aren't waiting for the results and have turned to private ketamine clinics. Ketamine is FDA-approved as a sedative but not as a mental health treatment, and protocols and dosing vary from clinic to clinic.
San Antonio Express-News (tiered subscription model) (2/5) 
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Military Health System
Troops, veterans might not get to use commercial health app
Apple is developing a smartphone app that will give patients a central entry point to all their electronic health records, but the DOD and VA are unlikely to allow service members and veterans to use it without an extra layer of security, experts say.
Federal Times (2/3) 
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Army sees progress in curbing troops' opioid use
The Army offers several programs with the goal of curbing opioid use by active-duty troops. "We've seen such a dramatic decrease in the number of soldiers on chronic opioids that our focus really has been on a proactive approach," said Col. Matt Garber of the Office of the Army Surgeon General.
Army Times (tiered subscription model) (2/4) 
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Veterans Health Administration
Report recommends steps for improving mental health care for veterans
About half of the veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and need mental health care are not getting it due to bureaucratic problems, staff shortages, a lack of social support, distance to a treatment center, fear about disclosing a mental health condition and even a widespread lack of parking spots, according to a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report said the VA should contact veterans, streamline the application process for care and invest in the VA workforce, technology and facilities.
Bloomberg (free registration) (1/31),  HealthDay News (1/31) 
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National Health Care
Public Health Service fails to implement pay system mandated in 2008
Health care providers and other staff with the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps received an unexpected pay cut last month because the service failed to implement the pay system ordered by Congress in 2008. The pay reduction will continue for three to four months as the new system is scaled up, but special pay will be retroactively restored, Surgeon General Jerome Adams wrote in a letter to the Commissioned Corps.
The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (2/6),  Politico (2/5) 
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Health and Medical Research
Mortality caused by hypertension increased from 2005 to 2015, study finds
Researchers found a 10.5% increase in hypertension-related mortality rates from 2005 to 2015 and said heart disease was the leading cause of death, although there was a decline in mortality from cardiovascular disease from 1979 to 2015. The American Heart Association's 2018 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics Update, published in the journal Circulation, revealed that 45.5% of deaths in the US caused by diabetes, heart disease and stroke were attributed to poor dietary habits, such as low consumption of fruits and vegetables and high intake of sodium and sugar-sweetened drinks.
Healio (free registration)/Cardiology Today (2/1) 
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