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Giori NJ, Beilstein-Wedel EE, Shwartz M, Harris AHS, Vanneman ME, Wagner TH, Rosen AK. Association of Quality of Care With Where Veterans Choose to Get Knee Replacement Surgery. JAMA Network Open. 2022 Sep 1; 5(9):e2233259.
IMPORTANCE: Recent legislation expanded veterans'' access to Veterans Health Administration (VA)-purchased care. Quality should be considered when choosing where to get total knee arthroplasty (TKA), but currently available quality metrics provide little guidance. OBJECTIVE: To determine whether an association exists between the proportion of TKAs performed (vs purchased) at each VA facility and the quality of care provided (as measured by short-term complication rates). DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This 3-year cohort study used VA and community care data (fiscal year 2017 to fiscal year 2019) from the VA''s Corporate Data Warehouse. Complications were defined following the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services'' methodology. The setting included 140 VA health care facilities performing or purchasing TKAs. Participants included veterans who had 43?371 primary TKA procedures that were either VA-performed or VA-purchased during the study period. EXPOSURES: Of the 43?371 primary TKA procedures, 18?964 (43.7%) were VA-purchased. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The primary outcome was risk-standardized short-term complication rates of VA-performed or VA-purchased TKAs. The association between the proportion of TKAs performed at each VA facility and quality of VA-performed and VA-purchased care was examined using a regression model. Subgroups were also identified for facilities that had complication rates above or below the overall mean complication rate and for facilities that performed more or less than half of the facility''s TKAs. RESULTS: Among the study sample''s 41?775 veterans who underwent 43?371 TKAs, 38?725 (89.3%) were male, 6406 (14.8%) were Black, 33?211 (76.6%) were White, and 1367 (3.2%) had other race or ethnicity (including American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander); mean (SD) age was 66.9 (8.5) years. VA-performed and VA-purchased TKAs had a mean (SD) raw overall short-term complication rate of 2.97% (0.08%). There was no association between the proportion of TKAs performed in VA facilities and risk-standardized complication rates for VA-performed TKAs, and no association for VA-purchased TKAs. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In this cohort study, surgical quality did not have an association with where veterans had TKA, possibly because meaningful comparative data are lacking. Reporting local and community risk-standardized complication rates may inform veterans'' decisions and improve care. Combining these data with the proportion of TKAs performed at each site could facilitate administrative decisions on where resources should be allocated to improve care.