VA-Operated Nursing Facilities Score Lower Than Private Facilities in Quality

The VA rehabilitation and nursing facility at the San Diego VA Medical Center is among that list

A new report sheds a sad light on rehabilitation and nursing care for veterans at the VA.

This internal report by the Veterans Administration looked at the 133 nursing facilities that are operated by the Veterans Administration comparing the facilities to private care facilities based on standard criteria.

According to the findings, 100 VA-operated nursing facilities across the country have more patients in pain and more patients with bed sores than private nursing homes.

The VA rehabilitation and nursing facility at the San Diego VA Medical Center is among that list.

Out of nearly 300 beds at the San Diego VA Medical Center 43 beds are designated for nursing care in the Community Living Center. Half are used for hospice care. The facility was given a one-star out of five for bedside care quality.

The five measurements to rate quality include:

  • Patients reporting being in pain the last five days - 32 percent of VA patients nationwide said they were in pain compared 5 percent in private facilities.
  • Having serious beds sores - VA facilities reported rates 3 percent higher than private facilities.
  • Receiving anti-psychotic medicine, which the FDA says could lead to death in dementia patients – Numbers were 5 percent higher at VA facilities from coast to coast.
  • Catheters being left in bladders – Were 10 percent higher at VA facilities.
  • A decreased ability to perform daily activities - 1 percent higher than at private facilities.

The San Diego VA Medical Center was given a lower rating in three out of five of the categories – pain management, bed sores and anti-psychotic medicine.

The San Diego VA Medical Center told NBC7 in a statement in part:

"For the measures that we are currently not meeting, we have been implementing several strategies for improvement. These include: encouraging patients to walk more, socialize with one another, participate in recreational therapy, and occupational therapy."

In addition to Quality, the VA also rated facilities on Staffing Levels and Unannounced Surveys.

A spokesperson for the San Diego VA Medical Center tells NBC 7 their nursing and rehabilitation facility received 5 Stars in both categories giving the facility an overall 5-Star rating.

The Veterans Administration in Washington D.C. responding through its website, saying the numbers are misleading because they are largely based on pain measurement ratings, and that the VA scores lower than the private sector because the department on average cares for sicker patients in its nursing homes than private facilities.

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