VA Health Care

Preliminary Observations on Medical Care Provided to Persian Gulf Veterans Gao ID: HEHS-98-139R April 20, 1998

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) efforts to provide health care to Persian Gulf veterans, focusing on whether VA is following the processes it established for providing health care to Gulf War veterans.

GAO noted that: (1) VA has not fully implemented an integrated diagnostic and treatment program to meet the health care needs of Persian Gulf veterans; (2) for example, while VA has developed a registry protocol to guide the evaluation and diagnosis of Persian Gulf veterans, the protocol is not being consistently implemented in the field; (3) moreover, although VA recognizes that using coordinated case management techniques will improve both treatment effectiveness and patient satisfaction, this approach has not been implemented at four of the six facilities GAO visited; (4) Persian Gulf veterans whose health care is coordinated by physicians who specialize in Persian Gulf illnesses appeared much more satisfied with their care than their counterparts who did not receive this continuity of care; and (5) having registry physicians or specific providers dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of Persian Gulf veterans may also yield other benefits, such as increasing the likelihood of recognizing symptomatic and diagnostic trends; identifying appropriate and effective treatment options; and, possibly, learning more about the nature and origin of Persian Gulf illnesses.

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