Health Care 'Report Card' Gives VA High Marks

Saturday, June 14, 2008 General News J E 4
WASHINGTON, June 13 A new "hospital reportcard" by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) gives the Department's healthcare system high marks, with VA facilities often outscoring private-sectorhealth plans in standards commonly accepted by the health care industry.

"This report is a comprehensive snapshot of the quality of care VAprovides to our veterans," said Dr. James B. Peake, Secretary of VeteransAffairs. "From waiting times and staffing levels to hospital accreditation andpatient satisfaction, this report demonstrates VA is providing high qualitycare to the veterans we serve."

Although screening for breast and cervical cancer for women in VAfacilities exceeds screening in private-sector facilities, women veterans lagbehind their male counterparts in some quality measurements, the report noted.

VA has already launched an aggressive program to ensure women veteransreceive the highest quality of care, including placement of women advocates inevery outpatient clinic and medical center. Health care will be a major topicat VA's National Summit on Women Veterans Issues scheduled for June 20-22 inWashington.

The report also found minority veterans are generally less satisfied withinpatient and outpatient care than white veterans. That disparity will be thefocus of an in-depth study, based upon input from veterans, which will becompleted this summer.

"Disparities in treatment and satisfaction based on gender or ethnicbackground are unacceptable," Peake said. "VA has a robust program to look atdisparities and to deal with the underlying causes."

The report card is available on the Internet at . In February,Congress directed VA to complete the report card, highlighting measurements ofquality, safety, timeliness, efficiency and "patient-centeredness."

"This report demonstrates VA's determination to be open and accountablefor the quality and safety of the care we provide," Peake said. "No otherhealth care organization provides this much information about its ability tocare for its patients."Among the report's finding: -- 98 percent of veterans were seen within 30 days at primary care facilities, 97 percent at specialty clinics. (Veterans requiring emergency care are seen immediately.) -- All of VA's 153 medical centers are accredited by the independent Joint Commission which accredits all U.S. health care facilities. -- The quality scores for older veterans are similar to those for younger veterans.

SOURCE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs


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