While Veterans are waiting for medical care at overcrowded VA medical centers, other military hospitals with low patient caseloads are struggling to provide quality care for the opposite reason. Some military hospitals are so small that doctors are failing to adequately diagnose and treat serious illnesses due to a lack of skills and oversight according to the New York Times.
In 2013, the majority of military hospitals served less than 30 inpatients a day, less than a third of what most civilian hospitals handle, leading Harvard School of Public Health patient safety expert Dr. Lucian Leape to declare, “I think they should be outlawed.” Small hospitals with vacant beds present the military with conflicting problems – a mix of financial woes and inexperienced doctors who are forced to assume responsibilities beyond their training or skill level. In addition, imposing military officer requirements on positions that supervise hospitals has placed more seasoned civilian doctors to desk jobs, with junior physicians heading up clinical departments after recently finishing residency simply because they have been promoted to “colonel.”
In Army hospitals, surgical errors are rampant. Irene Smith, a 42 year-old cafeteria worker, wife of an Army Sergeant and mother of three is a prime example of a simple surgery gone awry due to lack of quality care at Army hospitals. In 2007, Smith underwent a routine surgery to correct a hiatal hernia. Complications are rare and hospital stays are usually short for his procedure. But Smith, who had the surgery at Winn Army Community Hospital in Fort Stewart, Georgia, suffered a disproportionately bad outcome from this simple surgery. 12 surgeries later, she has lost her stomach and along with it anything resembling a normal life. She lost her job, can no longer eat normal food without pureeing it, and has chronic conditions that have left her health in such state of distress that some specialists are declining to treat her for fear of making her worse.
While the Pentagon is conducting a system-wide review of the quality of care in military hospitals, military patients continue to suffer bad outcomes due to medical malpractice at Army, Navy and Air Force hospitals. If you or a loved one suffered a bad surgical outcome or other injury that you believe is a result of medical malpractice, call us today for a free consultation.