DoD Finds Health Problems Similar To What VA Faces

Richard Sisk | | July 7, 2014

The Defense Department has acknowledged systemic problems in the vast Military Health System (MHS) for active-duty and retired troops similar to the pattern of poor care and management that has plagued the Department of Veterans Affairs.  "The people we serve expect us to improve. The American public expects us to improve. We expect ourselves to improve," Dr. Jonathan Woodson, the assistant secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, said in a recent memo to all medical personnel.  Woodson sent the memo following New York Times reports based on months of investigation showing "a pattern of avoidable errors that has led to injuries and contributed to some deaths" in MHS facilities.

The reports documented widespread problems in infection control and patient safety, and found that babies born in military hospitals were twice as likely to suffer injuries as newborns nationally.  Mothers giving birth at MHS facilities also were significantly more likely to hemorrhage after childbirth than mothers at civilian hospitals, the reports said.
Pentagon officials did not dispute the Times' reports. The reports instead were seen as a guideline to help "determine exactly where we are" in reforming the system, said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

The MHS has 56 hospitals and 361 clinics worldwide serving "9.6 million beneficiaries" in a system that is separate from the VA. The beneficiaries include 1.45 million active-duty service members, 1.7 million active-duty family members and 610,000 retired service members.  The beneficiaries are served by more than 133,000 military and civilian doctors, nurses, medical educators, researchers and other health professionals...