VA Health Care: Improvements Needed in Processes Used to Address Providers' Actions That Contribute to Adverse Events

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A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers GAO visited did not adhere to certain policy elements of the protected peer review process, and monitoring by VA's Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is limited. According to policy issued by VHA, protected peer review may be used by VA medical centers (VAMC) when there is a need to determine whether a provider's actions associated with an adverse event were clinically appropriate--that is, whether another provider with similar expertise would have taken similar action. Despite VAMC officials' general understanding ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. December 3, 2013.

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Description

A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers GAO visited did not adhere to certain policy elements of the protected peer review process, and monitoring by VA's Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is limited. According to policy issued by VHA, protected peer review may be used by VA medical centers (VAMC) when there is a need to determine whether a provider's actions associated with an adverse event were clinically appropriate--that is, whether another provider with similar expertise would have taken similar action. Despite VAMC officials' general understanding of the protected peer review process, none of the VAMCs GAO visited adhered to all four protected peer review policy elements selected for review, including the timely completion of reviews, and the timely development of peer review triggers that signal the need for further review of a provider's care. Failure of VAMCs to adhere to the protected peer review policy elements may result in missed opportunities to identify providers who pose a risk to patient safety. Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISN), responsible for oversight of VAMCs, monitor VAMCs' protected peer review processes through quarterly data submissions and annual site visits. A VHA official said that VHA monitors the process by reviewing and analyzing the aggregated quarterly data submitted by VAMCs through the VISNs. The VA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) also conducts oversight of the protected peer review process as part of a larger review of VAMCs' operations. While the VISNs and VA OIG have reviewed VAMCs establishment of peer review triggers to prompt further review of a provider's care, neither they nor VHA has monitored their implementation. As such, VHA cannot provide reasonable assurance that VAMCs are using the peer review triggers as intended, as a risk assessment tool. This weakens VAMCs' ability to ensure they are identifying providers that are unable to deliver safe, quality patient care."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • December 3, 2013

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. VA Health Care: Improvements Needed in Processes Used to Address Providers' Actions That Contribute to Adverse Events, report, December 3, 2013; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc302563/: accessed November 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.