67% of VA hospitals receive 4- or 5-star CMS ratings for patient safety

Two-thirds of acute care hospitals in the Veterans Health Administration received four or five stars for patient safety, according to CMS' 2023 Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings list released July 26.

This is the first year CMS has included VA hospitals in its annual rankings.

Of the 114 acute care VA hospitals included in CMS' five-star ranking, 67 percent received the top marks. The star ratings are based on data analyzed from five categories: mortality outcomes, safety of care, readmission rates, patient experience and timely, effective care. 

"This percentage is significantly higher than historical averages that we've seen with our private sector counterparts," Shereef Elnahal, MD, U.S. undersecretary of health for veterans affairs,  told Becker's in an invitation-only meeting July 25. "We are not necessarily surprised by these results, but we're very, very proud of our institutions for achieving them."

He said there are plans in place to improve results at the VA's hospitals that received two- and three-star ratings. 

The CMS patient safety ratings align with VA HCAHPS survey scores on patient satisfaction that topped private healthcare facilities, according to discharge data collected between July 2021 and June 2022. In this ranking, 72 percent of VA hospitals received four- or five-star ratings in all 10 patient satisfaction categories.

Dr. Elnahal marked his first anniversary in his position July 21 and spoke with Becker's about his key goals, which include a focus on patient safety and satisfaction, VA hospital staffing and partnering with private sector healthcare institutions to provide optimal care for veterans.

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