VA Health Care: Improvements Made in Physician Privileging Policies, but Medical Facility Compliance Has Not Been Assessed

GAO-08-271T Published: Nov 06, 2007. Publicly Released: Nov 06, 2007.
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In a report issued in May 2006, GAO examined compliance with the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) physician credentialing and privileging requirements at seven VA medical facilities GAO visited. VA's credentialing process is used to determine whether a physician's professional credentials, such as licensure, are valid and meet VA's requirements for employment. VA's privileging process is used to determine which health care services or clinical privileges, such as surgical procedures, a VA physician is qualified to provide to veterans without supervision. Although GAO cannot generalize from its findings, GAO found that the seven facilities were complying with credentialing requirements. However, the facilities were not complying with aspects of certain privileging requirements. To better ensure that VA physicians are qualified to deliver care safely to veterans, GAO made three recommendations to improve VA's privileging of physicians. GAO was asked to testify on (1) how VA credentials and privileges physicians working in its medical facilities and (2) the extent to which VA has implemented the three recommendations made in GAO's May 2006 report that address VA's privileging requirements. To update its issued work, GAO reviewed VA's policies, procedures, and correspondence related to physician privileging and interviewed VA central office officials to determine if the recommendations made in GAO's May 2006 report were implemented.

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