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Thursday
Dec152016

Rating the VA Hospitals

USA Today is listing the star rating system for the Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers based on the quality of care. The website has a link that allows searches for individual medical centers. The ratings have been done for years but the VA has refused to release the ratings saying they are meant for internal use only.

The top-rated hospitals received a 5 and the lowest a 1. According to the star ratings the best hospitals are in the Northeast and upper Midwest.  In the Southwest the ratings are not so good with the top-rated hospital Palo Alto and the lowest a tie between Phoenix and Albuquerque (Table 1).

Table 1. Southwest VA medical center star compare VA hospitals ratings.

Quality can be difficult to measure and it is not clear what metrics were used in the VA ratings. For this reason, the VA star ratings were compared to another hospital rating service Compare VA Hospitals (2). This scale uses a 1-100 scale with 100 being the best. In this scale the Palo Alto turned out to be the best in the country with Phoenix and the VA being more in the middle of the pack. There was no correlation between the ratings (r=0.2386, p>0.05). This is consistent with a previous publication in the SWJPCC which showed no or little correlation between the various hospital ratings.

The lack of correlation between rankings and not knowing the metrics which determine the rankings suggest that the VA is right, the rankings should remain for an internal use rather than adding to the confusion already generated by the various hospital rankings.

Richard A. Robbins, MD

Editor, SWJPCC

References

  1. Slack D. Exclusive: Internal documents detail secret VA quality ratings. USA Today. December 7, 2016. Available at: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/12/07/internal-report-details-secret-quality-ratings-veterans/94811922/ (accessed 12/14/16).
  2. Health Grove by Graphiq. Compare VA hospitals. Available at: http://va-hospitals.healthgrove.com/ (accessed 12/14/16).
  3. Robbins RA, Gerkin RD. A comparison between hospital rankings and outcomes data. Southwest J Pulm Crit Care. 2013;7(3):196-203. [CrossRef]

Cite as: Robbins RA. Rating the VA hospitals. Southwest J Pulm Crit Care. 2016;13(6):309-10. doi: https://doi.org/10.13175/swjpcc138-16 PDF 

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