Chief Orders Medical Care Review Amid Problems At Hospital
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[May 28, 2014]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense
Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered a comprehensive review of the U.S.
military's healthcare system on Tuesday after the head of an Army
medical center was relieved of command over concerns about problems at
the hospital, including two deaths.
The 90-day review, to be led by the assistant secretary of defense
for health affairs, comes amid an investigation of timely access to
care in the separate medical system for U.S. military veterans.
Rear Admiral John Kirby, the top Pentagon spokesman, said in a
statement the review would examine "whether current access to care
meets the department's standards" as well as "the safety and quality
of care provided to all Department of Defense beneficiaries."
The announcement of the review came after the commander of Womack
Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was relieved of
his duties on Tuesday, several weeks ahead of time.
The New York Times said the Womack shake-up, including the
suspension of three of the center's top deputies, was triggered by
two deaths at the hospital as well as problems with surgical
infection control identified by an independent accrediting body.
The problems at the Fort Bragg medical center, one of the Army's
busiest hospitals, come at a time of heightened concern about
medical care for military personnel and retirees after the
Department of Veterans Affairs started a probe of treatment delays
at its hospitals and clinics.
The probe began after doctors at a Phoenix veterans' hospital said
they were ordered to hold veterans' names for months on a secret
waiting list until a spot opened up on an official list that met the
agency's two-week waiting time goals for patients needing to see a
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Kirby said Hagel would meet senior defense officials on Wednesday to
discuss the scope of the review and his expectations for it.
"It is fair to say that he ordered this review within the context of
what is going on at the VA. To the degree we have similar issues -
and we do not know that we necessarily have them - he wants to know
and he wants to attack them aggressively," Kirby said.
(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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