FRIDAY, Feb. 25, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Dually eligible U.S. veterans have a substantially lower risk for 30-day death when treated at a Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital versus a non-VA hospital, according to a study published online Feb. 16 in The BMJ.

David C. Chan, M.D., Ph.D., from Stanford University in California, and colleagues compared mortality outcomes between dually eligible veterans transported by ambulance to a VA hospital and those transported to a non-VA hospital. The analysis included 583,248 veterans (aged 65 years and older) enrolled in both the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and Medicare programs, who resided within 20 miles of at least one VA hospital and at least one non-VA hospital.

The researchers found that 15.8 percent of individuals went to VA hospitals. At 30 days, the adjusted mortality rate was 20.1 percent lower among patients taken to VA hospitals than among patients taken to non-VA hospitals (9.32 versus 11.67 deaths per 100 patients). Large mortality advantages were seen for Black patients (−25.8 percent) and Hispanic patients (−22.7 percent) who had received care at the same VA hospital in the previous year.

“The findings of this paper will help guide VHA Emergency Medicine to optimize emergency care in the community and inside the VA,” Chad Kessler, M.D., executive director of emergency medicine at the VHA, said in a statement. “Furthermore, the data helps us better understand the quality and cost of emergency care across the spectrum. The results will help define the direction and future growth of emergency medicine for veterans.”

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