1Center for Innovation to Implementation, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Menlo Park, California, USA Department of Health Research and Policy, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA.
2Department of Health Research and Policy, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA.
3Department of Health Research and Policy, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA Division of General Internal Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford California, USA.
4Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research, Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, Bedford, Massachusetts, USA Department of Health Policy and Management, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
5Veterans Health Administration, Office of Public Health, Washington DC, USA.
6Veterans Health Administration, Office of Public Health, Washington DC, USA Yale School of Medicine, Departments of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, New Haven, Conneticut, USA.
7Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research, Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, Bedford, Massachusetts, USA.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE:
How patients respond to being notified of a large-scale adverse event (LSAE), such as improper sterilisation of medical equipment that exposes them to bloodborne pathogens, is not well known. The objective of this study was to determine, using administrative data, the intended and unintended consequences of patient notification following a LSAE.
We examined five LSAEs where patients may have been inadvertently exposed to hepatitis C virus (HCV), HIV, and hepatitis B virus (HBV). A total of 9638 cases were identified at five Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) medical facilities between 2009 and 2012. We identified controls at the same facility prior to the exposure period and at neighbouring facilities (n=45 274). Difference-in-differences models were used with Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and Medicare data to examine infectious disease testing rates and subsequent utilisation patterns.
Receipt of a LSAE notification was associated with a 73.2, 76.8 and 77.1 adjusted percentage point increase for HCV, HIV and HBV testing, respectively (all p<0.001). Compared with white patients, African-American patients were significantly less likely to return to VHA for follow-up testing. Patients exposed to a dental LSAE reduced their use of preventive and restorative dental care over the subsequent year, but they eventually came back to VHA for dental services 18-months post exposure.
The majority of patients notified of a LSAE responded by getting tested for HCV, HIV and HBV, although there remains room for improvement. Potential exposure to a LSAE was associated with increased odds of subsequently using non-VA facilities, but the size and timing of the shift depended on the type of care.