To compare 90‐day postoperative complication rates between Veterans receiving cataract surgery in VA vs Community Care (CC) during the first year of implementation of the Veterans Choice Act.
Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 VA and CC outpatient data from VA’s Corporate Data Warehouse (CDW) 10/01/14‐9/30/15). FY14 data were used to obtain baseline clinical information prior to surgery.
Retrospective one‐year study using secondary data to compare 90‐day complication rates following cataract surgery (measured using National Quality Forum (NQF) criteria) in VA vs CC. NQF defines major complications from a specified list of Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes. We ran a series of logistic regression models to predict 90‐day complication rates, adjusting for Veterans’ sociodemographic characteristics, comorbidities, preoperative ocular conditions, eye risk group, and type of cataract surgery (classified as routine vs complex).
We linked VA and CC users through patient identifiers obtained from the CDW files. Our sample included all enrolled Veterans who received outpatient cataract surgery either in the VA or through CC during FY15. Cataract surgeries were identified through CPT codes 66 984 (routine) and 66 982 (complex).
Of the 83,879 cataract surgeries performed in FY15, 31 percent occurred through CC. Undergoing complex surgery and having a high‐risk eye (based on preoperative ocular conditions) were the strongest clinical predictors of 90‐day postoperative complications. Overall, we found low complication rates, ranging from 1.1 percent in low‐risk eyes to 3.6 percent in high‐risk eyes. After adjustment for important confounders (eg, race, rurality, and preoperative ocular conditions), there were no statistically significant differences in 90‐day complication rates between Veterans receiving cataract surgery in VA vs CC.
As more Veterans seek care through CC, future studies should continue to monitor quality of care across the two care settings to help inform VA’s “make vs buy decisions.”