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VHA National Center for Patient Safety

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VA Care is Safe

VA care is as safe or safer when compared to care received outside of the VA. This has been validated by two independent studies conducted by The Rand Corporation[1] and a 2017 study[2] published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) by a group of researchers from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.

“Veterans Affairs hospitals had better outcomes than non-VA hospitals for 6 of 9 [Patient Safety Indicators] PSIs. There were no significant differences for the other 3 PSIs. In addition, VA hospitals had better outcomes for all the mortality and readmissions metrics.”

- Blay, et al., Northwestern School of Medicine in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) Patient Safety Indicators “are a set of measures that screen for adverse events that patients experience as a result of exposure to the health care system. These events are likely amenable to prevention by changes at the system or provider level.”[3] There were no significant differences for the other three PSIs that were examined.

The PSIs** that were looked at are:

  • PSI 3 – Pressure Ulcer [Pressure Sores]
  • PSI 4 – [Deaths among patients with serious treatable complications after surgery]
  • PSI 6 – Latrogenic Pneumothorax [Lung injury due to medical treatment]
  • PSI 7 – Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infection (CLABSI)
  • PSI 8 – In-hospital fall with hip fracture
  • PSI 12 – Perioperative VTE [Serious blood clots after surgery]
  • PSI 14 – Postoperative Sepsis [Infection complication after a procedure]
  • PSI 15 – Unrecognized Abdominopelvic accidental puncture/laceration [Accidental puncture or laceration during a procedure]

 Additionally, VA hospitals had better outcomes for all of the mortality and readmissions metrics. These include the following:

  • Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI) [Heart attack]
  • Pneumonia or PNA
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Heart Failure
**Terminology in brackets [] is not official The Joint Commission terminology.


1. Hussey, Peter, Jeanne S. Ringel, Sangeeta Ahluwalia, Resources and Capabilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs to Provide Timely and Accessible Care to Veterans. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2015.

2. Blay E, DeLancey JO, Hewitt DB, Chung JW, Bilimoria KY. Initial Public Reporting of Quality at Veterans Affairs vs Non–Veterans Affairs Hospitals. JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(6):882–885. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.0605

3. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Accessed March 9, 2018.