VA reportedly stopped sending teams to try to improve underperforming hospitals

by FOXNews.com
June 10, 2014

The Department of Veterans Affairs suspended a program that sent teams of doctors and monitors to try to improve its worst-performing facilities for approximately two years, according to a published report.

The Wall Street Journal, citing agency doctors and internal records, reported that the visits were “paused” beginning in early 2011. Dr. Carolyn Clancy, the head of the agency’s quality and safety program, said the VA had begun to revive the program about a year ago.

The Journal report specifies seven VA hospitals that have consistently received a rating of one star out of a possible five from the VA since at least 2011. Those hospitals are located in Augusta, Ga.; Little Rock, Ark.; Providence, R.I.; Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Oklahoma City; Phoenix; and Puget Sound (Seattle), Wash. The star rating system measures hospitals according to key performance standards, including death rates among acute-care patients and among patients suffering from congestive heart failure and pneumonia. Length of stays and readmission rates are also taken into consideration.

It is not clear why the agency halted the visits, though the Journal report cites current and former VA doctors who claim that top managers of the agency played down the utility of basing the ratings system on specific medical outcomes.

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