The VA story keeps getting worse. According to the WSJ, the VA knew at least some of their hospitals had high, even alarming, death rates. But instead of scrutinizing these facilities, it looked the other way:
Starting in 2011, when the VA instituted a new system to track performance standards, five VA hospitals notched consistently poor scores on a range of critical-care outcomes, including mortality and infection rates. By the first quarter of this year, that bottom-performing group had expanded to at least seven hospitals, records show.During most of that time, VA senior management suspended a long-standing program that had sent teams of doctors and monitors to its worst-performing hospitals to try to improve them, agency doctors said.
The WSJ adds that “current and former VA doctors” say officials “played down the utility of measuring specific medical outcomes.”The VA’s dereliction of duty is proof that it is folly to rely on opaque bureaucratic organizations to protect the quality of one’s health care. No mother seeking care for her child would “play down the utility of measuring specific medical outcomes.” Failure will occur in any health care system, but when consumers are more directly in change of their own care and the system is more transparent, abuses are more likely to be discovered quickly and corrected.