A recent article in the New York Times, In Military Care, a Pattern of Errors but Not Scrutiny examined what seems to be rampant neglect in military hospitals, particularly in the context of care for pregnant women and women in labor. The findings would surprise no one, especially in light of recent revelations concerning the care, or lack of it, for our veterans.
Military Birth and Care Statistics:
- 50,000 babies born every year in military hospitals
- Babies born at military hospitals are twice as likely to be injured to delivery
- Delivering mothers are more likely to hemorrhage after childbirth
- 239 unexpected deaths in military hospitals from 2011 to 2013, with only 100 inquiries and “case reviews”
- Forceps injuries (to mothers) are 15% more likely in military hospitals
- In 2011, one in every 200 babies born in military hospitals suffered some type of birth injury.
Of some comfort is that the Defense Secretary has ordered a review of all military hospitals, expanding beyond the problems plaguing veterans care. However, this is small comfort to those parents and family members who are living lives impacted by an unacceptable level of care. According to the article, the problems come from “a compartmentalized system of leadership, a culture of interservice secrecy and an overall failure to make patient safety a top priority.” Most hospitals around the country track rates of death and readmission to help discern whether patient care is adequate. Military hospitals don’t analyze that data.
Military medicine has good intentions—the rules require them to conduct a safety investigation when patients are unexpectedly killed or injured. The point is to figure out what went wrong, figure out how to prevent it, and implement the lessons learned. Sadly, those reviews are either not being done when necessary, or there are no action plans instituted afterward. That’s unacceptable. It should not take a lawsuit to highlight negligence.
And yet, lawsuits against military hospitals show settlements and verdicts for surgical, maternity and neonatal care passing $100 million per year from 2006 to 2010. A shockingly large number of these mistakes are 100% preventable—leaving sponges and surgical devices in the body, or operating on the wrong part of the body. Most civilian hospitals have severely limited those types of events, in comparison.
Bringing Military Malpractice Lawsuits
There are very strict deadlines, including notice requirements and filing deadlines for claims against the U.S. Government. The safest course is to consult with an attorney if you believe that you or your child has been the victim of medical negligence, so that you can get the information you need. If you want to find out the deadlines for your claim, or if you need help exploring whether you have a claim, contact our medical malpractice attorneys at (440) 252-4399 or online for a free consultation.