Veterans Affairs Facilities May Offer Superior Care

Study finds VA facilities provide the same or superior care compared with non-VA facilities.

Although largely scrutinized for poor care, Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities provide care that is comparable to the treatment given at other facilities.

The VA facilities even outperformed in both the safety and effectiveness aspects of treatments, according to a study published by the Journal of General Internal Medicine. By law, the healthcare capabilities and resources of VA facilities must be examined.

The researchers included 69 of these studies conducted within the past 10 years. They then compared these studies with other similar healthcare settings.

“The results show that, in terms of safety and effectiveness, VA facilities compare favorably with others,” said researcher Courtney Gidengil, MD, MPH. “Rates of surgical complications and availability of services had the least favorable results, but these results were mixed rather than consistently poor.”

Researchers found that 22 of 34 studies regarding safety and 20 of 24 studies regarding effectiveness showed the VA performed the same or better than non-VA facilities. Safety measures and best practices were also taken into account.

The researchers did not find any difference in mortality rates either.

"Mortality rates have declined more quickly in Veteran Affairs health care settings over time than in non-VA settings," Dr Gidengil said.

Preventative, recommended, and end-of-life care was shown to be the same or superior to non-VA facilities. They also managed medications the same or better than other facilities.

Researchers discovered that outpatient care for diabetes and screening tests for heart disease and cancer were also rated higher in VA facilities. However, researchers caution that few studies have compared VA and non-VA facilities, and the quality of the available studies may vary.