WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 16, 2008) - A new "hospital report card" by the Department of Veterans Affairs gives the department's health care system high marks, with VA facilities often outscoring private-sector health plans in standards commonly accepted by the health care industry.

"This report is a comprehensive snapshot of the quality of care VA provides to our veterans," said Dr. James B. Peake, secretary of Veterans Affairs. "From waiting times and staffing levels to hospital accreditation and patient satisfaction, this report demonstrates VA is providing high quality care to the veterans we serve."

Among the report's findings:

Aca,!Ac 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.)

Aca,!Ac All of VA's 153 medical centers are accredited by the independent Joint Commission which accredits all U.S. health care facilities.

Aca,!Ac The quality scores for older veterans are similar to those for younger veterans.

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

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

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

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

The report card is available on the Internet at <a href="http://www.va.gov/health/docs/Hospital_Quality_Report.pdf"target=_blank>
www.va.gov/health/docs/Hospital_Quality_Report.pdf</a>. In February, Congress directed VA to complete the report card, highlighting measurements of quality, safety, timeliness, efficiency and "patient-centeredness."

"This report demonstrates VA's determination to be open and accountable for the quality and safety of the care we provide," Peake said. "No other health care organization provides this much information about its ability to care for its patients."

Page last updated Mon June 16th, 2008 at 13:00