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Mothers and newborns have 'double the risk' at military hospitals

Madigan Medical Center, JBLM
Madigan Medical Center, JBLM
Wikipedia photo

In the wake of the scandals at the VA hospitals, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered a complete review of all military hospitals. Some of the findings are disturbing.

The New York Times did some digging and published the Pentagon’s own findings that in direct comparison to civilian hospitals, both mothers and newborns had higher rates of complications when the births took place at military hospitals. In fact, of the 50,000 babies born annually at military hospitals they are “twice as likely to be injured during delivery” as babies born outside the military hospital system.

Additionally, mothers who delivered their infants at military hospitals were more likely to experience post-partum hemorrhaging than mothers who delivered at civilian hospitals.

The report was done in 2012 but it’s unclear if the negative statistics were buried in bureaucracy or if the findings were part of a larger, systemic, cover-up much like the cover-ups, phantom scheduling, and dumped claims on the VA side of the military healthcare system.

What was not revealed by the New York Times, and what is not known about the report, is the type of prenatal care received by the mothers prior to their arrival in the military hospitals’ delivery rooms.

Conclusive and long-term evidence shows that good prenatal care, which includes good nutrition, vitamin and iron supplements, and regular exams prior to delivery is key to good outcomes for both babies and mothers. The report does not point a damning finger at lack of access for expectant mothers.

Records obtained by the New York Times indicates an abundance of malpractice suits and says the government paid an average of $100 million in malpractice claims each year from 2006-2010.

Actual statistics from this report were not available to this writer. Although, in March of 2012, the Department of Defense released a report: Changes Aim to Strengthen Military Health System; is of particular interest due to the opening verbiage by the Pentagon's top health affairs official, Dr. Jonathan Woodson:

“A proposed new governance structure will make the military health system more effective and produce savings, and the system’s 9.8 million beneficiaries worldwide will never miss an appointment."

Dr. Woodson's statement is a bit haunting given the climate at the VA and other military hospitals across the nation.

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