Veteran Health hospitals consistently outperform non-Veteran Health hospitals in several measures of quality of care

1. The authors of this cross-sectional study found that Veteran Health (VA) hospitals provided the better care in most hospital referral regions compared to non-VA settings.

2. The study found VA care to be significantly better than non-VA care in 14 out of the 15 quality of care measures assessed.

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)

Study Rundown: This study compared healthcare that is provided by Veteran Health Administration (VA) compared to non-VA hospitals. As veterans have access to both healthcare systems, it is important for them to have information regarding outcomes of these hospitals in order to make informed decisions regarding seeking care. The authors assessed whether important outcomes of VA and non-VA care in the same region differed. They observed that VA hospitals consistently perform better than non-VA hospitals in the measures of quality care assessed in the study. The major limitations of this were its cross-sectional designs and that the hospital referral regions of the study were delineated through The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care. Referral regions and definitions may vary based on which database is used and produce differing results in future studies.

Click to read the study in Annals of Internal Medicine

Relevant Reading: Comparing VA and Non-VA Quality of Care: A Systematic Review

In-Depth [cross-sectional study]: The authors of this cross-sectional study identified 15 measures of quality of care that they used to compare VA with non-VA hospitals. Some of these measures included 30-day risk-adjusted mortality rates for four common diseases, as well as many patient safety indicators. The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care was used to define hospital referral regions as healthcare markets. When comparing the two systems, VA care was observed to be significantly better than non-VA care in 14 out of the 15 outcomes. Furthermore, the VA hospital provided the best care in at least 50% of the regions for 9 of the 15 outcomes. VA  hospitals were identified as providing the worst care in less than 15% of the regions for 14 of the 15 measures.

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