Veterans Health Administration (VHA) hospitals outperform non-VHA hospitals for 14 of 15 outcome measures in 121 regions, according to a research letter published online Dec. 11 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
William B. Weeks, M.D., Ph.D., from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and colleagues examined whether outcomes of VHA and non-VHA care in the same region differ. Fifteen outcome measures (30-day risk-adjusted mortality rates for four common diseases plus 11 additional patient safety indicators) reported by VHA and non-VHA hospitals were identified using data from the Hospital Compare website. The analyses were limited to 121 regions in which at least one VHA and one non-VHA hospital reported at least one measure.
The researchers found that when all regions were considered together, for 14 of 15 measures, VHA care was significantly better than non-VHA care. A VHA hospital provided the best care in at least 50 percent of the regions for nine measures and above-average care in at least 67 percent of the regions for 14 of the 15 measures. In fewer than 15 percent of the regions, a VHA hospital provided the worst care for 14 measures.
"This finding may indicate that the VHA generally provides truly excellent care; if so, we believe that efforts to outsource VHA care to non-VHA settings solely for patient convenience should be reconsidered," the authors write.