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Bay Pines VA Healthcare System

 

Imaging Best Practice Quickly Spreads Network Wide

Imaging staff at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System make improvements in screening efficiency for Veterans at risk of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Imaging staff at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System make improvements in screening efficiency for Veterans at risk of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm.

By Melanie L. Thomas, MBA, Public Affairs Specialist
Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System’s Radiology Serve recently developed a best practice that has quickly spread throughout the Veterans Integrated Services Network (VISN) 8.

The best practice was developed after the United States Preventative Services Task Force found evidence that suggested that a one-time screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) for men 65 – 75 years of age who have had a history of smoking was recommended. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) accepted the recommendation and directed all VA medical facilities to take necessary steps to begin screening Veterans at risk for AAA.

The implementation of this best practice allows for more optimal screening of the Veteran population who may be at risk. In addition, the new practice helps by eliminating unnecessary medical costs that could potentially be passed on to Veterans who may be required to pay co-pays.

In October 2018, Dr. Eric Lenz, Chief of Radiology and Dr. Carlos Martinez, Radiologist, presented their best practice for screening at a VISN 8 improvement forum which showcased their success. By late December 2018, it was adopted by all VA health care facilities in Florida, South Georgia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Dr. Eric Lenz, Chief of Radiology and Dr. Carlos Martinez, Radiologist presenting at the VISN 8 Improvement Forum held in Orlando Florida in October 2018.

Dr. Eric Lenz, Chief of Radiology and Dr. Carlos Martinez, Radiologist presenting at the VISN 8 Improvement Forum held in Orlando Florida in October 2018.

“There are many radiology examinations in addition to conducting an ultrasound that can adequately evaluate the abdominal aorta to assess for the presence or absence of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm,” Lenz explained.

“These examinations include computed tomography (CT) examinations of the abdomen and lumbar spine as well as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examinations of the abdomen and lumbar spine,” he said.

Army Veteran Oscar Picon has been a smoker for 20 years, and was recently identified to be at risk for AAA. The Veteran appreciates the added protective measure that the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System’s Radiology Service is spearheading.

U.S. Army Veteran Oscar Picon receiving an ultrasound to screen for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm by Lead Radiology Technician Denise Cobb at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center.

Pictured in photo: U.S. Army Veteran Oscar Picon receiving an ultrasound to screen for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm by Lead Radiology Technician Denise Cobb at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center.

“I don’t typically think about these things. I wouldn’t even have thought to ask to be screened for this. I’m glad that the VA has my back and has adopted these strategies to keep an eye on my health. I am very grateful to be getting such wonderful care,” said Picon.

The best practice has not only won over Veterans, but has made a lasting impression on staff as well.

“When we first started this practice, we didn’t realize how valuable it would become. I’m proud of the work I do here at Bay Pines,” said Denise Cobb, Lead Radiology Technician.

Overall, the impact of the best practice has helped to decrease or eliminate the redundancy of imaging for Veterans.

Chief of Staff Dr. Dominique Thuriere explains that, “The time it saves Veterans, and overall improvement to patient care, make this best practice one that is transforming delivery of care for Veterans. It is what we must do to stay relevant, create better patient relationships, and provide timely care for our Nation’s heroes.

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