Investigation finds military hospitals lack safety standards

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

July 2, 2014

Military hospitals across the nation fail to look into unexpected deaths of patients, and do not conduct safety investigations that could help protect patient safety, according to an investigation by the New York Times.

The investigation calls into question the practices at military hospitals, which are separate from the veterans administration hospitals that save been undergoing a scandal recently for faulty patient safety practices.

The Times report was based on a review of internal documents obtained by the paper. Since 2001, the Defense Department has required military hospitals to conduct safety investigations when patients unexpectedly die or suffer severe injury, but the report stated that that the mandated safety investigations often go undone. In fact, from 2011 to 2013, medical workers reported 239 unexpected deaths, but only 100 inquiries were forwarded to the Pentagon’s patient-safety center, the paper said.

The investigation found high rates of patient injuries in two specific categories – maternity and surgery. It found that the 50,000 babies born in military hospitals are twice as likely to be injured during delivery as newborns nationwide, and half of the system’s 16 largest hospitals had higher than expected rates of complications over a recent 12-month period.