TribLIVE

| USWorld

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Military hospital network plagued by chronic, avoidable errors, newspaper reports

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Reuters
Saturday, June 28, 2014, 8:03 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON — The military hospital system, which cares for the 1.6 million active-duty service members and their families, is rife with chronic yet avoidable errors and is subject to only sporadic scrutiny, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

The newspaper said it found during a major investigation that the military hospital network, which is separate from the scandal-plagued Veterans Affairs system, had a particularly bad track record in the areas of maternity care and surgery.

“More than 50,000 babies are born at military hospitals each year, and they are twice as likely to be injured during delivery as newborns nationwide, the most recent statistics show,” the paper said.

It said its examination concluded that “the military lags behind many civilian hospital systems in protecting patients from harm.” The review is based on Pentagon studies, court records, analyses of thousands of pages of data, and interviews with current and former military health officials and workers.

“The most common errors are strikingly prosaic — the unread file, the unheeded distress call, the doctor on one floor not talking to the doctor on another,” the paper said.

It quoted examples of “never events,” so-called because they are so grave yet preventable.

“A viable fetus died after a surgeon operated on the wrong part of the mother's body,” the paper said.

“A 41-year-old woman's healthy thyroid gland was removed because someone else's biopsy result had been recorded on her chart. A 54-year-old retired officer suffered acute kidney failure and permanent hearing loss after an incorrect dose of chemotherapy,” it cited as other examples.

The Times quoted Defense officials as saying military hospitals deliver treatment that is as good, if not better, than civilian hospitals.

“We strive to be a perfect system, but we are not a perfect system, and we know it,” the paper quoted Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs, as saying. “We must learn from our mistakes and take corrective actions to prevent them from reoccurring.”

The Times said records showed that mandated safety investigations often went undone, that less than half of reported unexpected death inquiries were forwarded to the Pentagon's patient safety center, and that cases involving permanent harm often remained unexamined.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. West Virginia on pace to issue record number of concealed-carry permits
  2. Obama orders steeper emission cuts from power plants
  3. Wreckage from Challenger, Columbia goes on display
  4. 5,000 homes in peril of Northern Calif. wildfire
  5. Manhunt under way for suspect in Memphis officer’s killing
  6. Finish 44-year Hamtramck housing bias case soon, judge tells lawyers
  7. GOP leaders aloof as Texas Attorney General Paxton indicted for securities fraud
  8. Tent blows off mooring, kills 1 near Chicago
  9. Phoenix man accused of beheading wife, dogs jailed on $2M bail
  10. Veterans notified of info breach in South Dakota
  11. Hitchhiking robot’s journey west cut short in Philly