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VA Health Care: Improvements Needed in Monitoring Antidepressant Use for Major Depressive Disorder and in Increasing Accuracy of Suicide Data

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Congressional rept.

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In 2013, VA estimated that about 1.5 million veterans required mental health care, including services for MDD. MDD is a debilitating mental illness related to reduced quality of life and productivity, and increased risk for suicide. VA also plays a role in suicide prevention. GAO was asked to review how VA tracks veterans prescribed antidepressants and what suicide data VA uses in its prevention efforts. This report examines 1 VAs data on veterans with MDD, including those prescribed an antidepressant 2 the extent that veterans with MDD who are prescribed antidepressants receive recommended care and the extent to which VA monitors such care and 3 the quality of data VA requires VAMCs to collect on veteran suicides. GAO analyzed VA data, interviewed VA officials, and conducted site visits to six VAMCs selected based on geography and population served. From each of these six VAMCs, GAO also reviewed five randomly selected medical records for veterans diagnosed with MDD and prescribed an antidepressant in 2012, as well as all completed BHAP templates. The results cannot be generalized across VA but provide insights. GAO recommends that VA identify and address MDD coding discrepancies implement processes to review data and assess deviations from recommended care and implement processes to improve completeness, accuracy, and consistency of veteran suicide data. VA concurred with GAOs recommendations and described its plans to implement them.

Subject Categories:

  • Psychology
  • Medicine and Medical Research

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