Development of the Veterans Healthcare Administration (VHA) Ophthalmic Surgical Outcome Database (OSOD) Project and the Role of Ophthalmic Nurse Reviewers

Insight. Apr-Jun 2011;36(2):11-4.


Currently, ophthalmic surgical cases are not included in the Veterans Administration Surgical Quality Improvement Project data collection. Furthermore, there is no comprehensive protocol in the health system for prospectively measuring outcomes for eye surgery in terms of safety and quality. There are 400,000 operative cases in the system per year. Of those, 48,000 (12%) are ophthalmic surgical cases, with 85% (41,000) of those being cataract cases. The Ophthalmic Surgical Outcome Database Pilot Project was developed to incorporate ophthalmology into VASQIP, thus evaluating risk factors and improving cataract surgical outcomes. Nurse reviewers facilitate the monitoring and measuring of these outcomes. Since its inception in 1778, the Veterans Administration (VA) Health System has provided comprehensive healthcare to millions of deserving veterans throughout the U.S. and its territories. Historically, the quality of healthcare provided by the VA has been the main focus of discussion because it did not meet a standard of care comparable to that of the private sector. Information regarding quality of healthcare services and outcomes data had been unavailable until 1986, when Congress mandated the VA to compare its surgical outcomes to those of the private sector (PL-99-166). 1 Risk adjustment of VA surgical outcomes began in 1987 with the Continuous Improvement in Cardiac Surgery Program (CICSP) in which cardiac surgical outcomes were reported and evaluated. 2 Between 1991 and 1993, the National VA Surgical Risk Study (NVASRS) initiated a validated risk-adjustment model for predicting surgical outcomes and comparative assessment of the quality of surgical care in 44 VA medical centers. 3 The success of NVASRS encouraged the VA to establish an ongoing program for monitoring and improving the quality of surgical care, thus developing the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) in 1994. 4 According to a prospective study conducted between 1991-1997 in 123 VA medical centers by Khuri et al., the 30-day mortality and morbidity rates for major surgeries had decreased by 9% and 30%, respectively. 5 Recently renamed the VA Surgical Quality Improvement Program (VASQIP) in 2010, the quality of surgical outcomes has continued to improve among all documented surgical specialties. Ophthalmic surgery is presumed to have a very low mortality rate and therefore has not been included in the VASQIP database.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Eye Diseases / nursing*
  • Eye Diseases / surgery*
  • Hospitals, Veterans / standards*
  • Humans
  • Ophthalmologic Surgical Procedures / standards*
  • Practice Patterns, Nurses'*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care*
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs / organization & administration*