Small Military Hospitals Posing a Health Risk to Patients

According to a front page article in the NY Times, the forty smaller military hospitals that provide medical care to 1.35 million service men and women are failing to provide quality healthcare. In some instances, the care is so sub-standard it may be characterized as dangerous. The authors of the Times’ article note, “The hospitals are so small and the trickle of patients so thin that it compromises the ability of doctors and nurses to capably diagnose and treat serious illnesses. . .Compared with leading civilian hospitals, more than half of domestic military hospitals — including the five with the busiest maternity wards — performed poorly on one or more measures of harm to mothers or babies in 2011 and 2012. As The Times previously reported, half of the military hospitals whose surgical data are submitted for outside review had higher than expected rates of surgical complications.” The problems are exacerbated in some cases because there are not sufficient outcomes to measure. As the VA scandal has attracted the majority of the media’s attention, the issues surrounding smaller military hospitals has gone largely unnoticed, at least until the Times’ front page expose.

Holly Haines