Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) progress in improving health care services for female veterans, focusing on: (1) VA progress following a 1982 GAO report; and (2) the remaining barriers that restrict women's access to health care.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Veterans Affairs||The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Medical Director to require each medical center, as part of its quality assurance program, to develop and implement an action plan, acceptable to the Chief Medical Director, for improving compliance with the requirement that each woman inpatient receive a complete physical examination, including pelvic and breast examinations and a Pap test, at appropriate intervals. Those plans should, at a minimum, address: (1) the use of nurse practitioners and gynecologists to perform physical examinations; (2) the education and training of medical center staff as to the importance of women-specific services; and (3) quality assurance monitoring.|
|Department of Veterans Affairs||The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Medical Director to monitor, as part of VA quality assurance activities, centers' compliance with the September 1991 circular on mammography services.|
|Department of Veterans Affairs||The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Medical Director to issue guidance to medical centers on: (1) identifying privacy deficiencies in accommodations for women veterans; and (2) instituting a mechanism for tracking corrective actions. The latter should include a center's women veterans coordinator or a representative of the women veterans committee, or both, in the approval process for facility renovation and construction projects, thus helping to ensure that the privacy needs of women patients are adequately addressed.|
|Department of Veterans Affairs||The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Medical Director to ensure that innovative practices for improving health services to women veterans are identified, disseminated, and, where appropriate, implemented throughout the system.|