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VA RESEARCH QUARTERLY UPDATE
This Issue: Chronic Disease Care | Table of Contents: Spring 2016 |

In the News

VA edges Medicare in heart care


A recent study compared VA and Medicare for heart attack care. (Photo for illustrative purposes only.
A recent study compared VA and Medicare for heart attack care. (Photo for illustrative purposes only. ©iStock/digitalskillet)

A recent study compared VA and Medicare for heart attack care. (Photo for illustrative purposes only. ©iStock/digitalskillet)

A study published Feb. 9, 2016, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that older men treated in the VA health care system for acute myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) are less likely to die within 30 days after the event than Medicare beneficiaries treated at other hospitals, although they are more likely to require readmission during the same time period. The team found, however, that mortality rates and readmission rates were higher for pneumonia at VA hospitals.

The researchers, two of whom were associated with VA, studied 104 VA and 1,513 non-VA hospitals, and compared mortality and readmission rates among Veterans and male Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries. The data came from VA and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The team hypothesized that the lower rates of mortality for cardiovascular conditions seen in VA hospitals could be a reflection of higher-quality care, indicated by better adherence to process measures, and that it could also be related to quality-improvement efforts that have been implemented across the system.

Results of the study were publicized in Medicalxpress, also Feb. 9. In an accompanying JAMA editorial, a researcher associated with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health wrote that "these findings are important because they suggest that despite all of the challenges VA hospitals have faced, they are still able to deliver high-quality care for some of the sickest, most complicated patients."


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