Members of the US Armed Forces are unable to hold accountable the US military medical system even in case of serious medical mistakes, a new report has revealed.
Tens of thousands of serious medical mistakes happen every year at US hospitals and clinics and most patients and their families face significant obstacles if they try to find out what went wrong.
However, America’s 1.3 million active military personnel face extra constraints, nearly powerless to hold accountable the health care system that treats them, according to The New York Times.
US military personnel are captives of the military’s health care system, rarely unable to receive treatment elsewhere if they fear their care is substandard or dangerous, the Times reported on Sunday.
Yet if they are harmed or die, they or their family have no legal right to file malpractice suits to challenge their care and seek answers, the report said.
“There is just no transparency. You can’t sue. You have no insight into the process,” said Cheryl Garner, a military intelligence officer who retired last year. “As active duty, we just don’t have much recourse.”
The report is based on scores of interviews with patients, their families and military medical workers. It highlights cases of death problems due to medical negligence or the failure of the military health service.
Under federal law, medical malpractice investigations at military hospitals and clinics are confidential, partly to keep the findings from the roughly two million civilian patients they treat per year, who can and do file malpractice claims.