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Sorry Works! Blog

Making Disclosure A Reality For Healthcare Organizations 

Medical Errors Hidden from American Soldiers -- task for Obama??

At age 44, I am not old enough to remember the Vietnam War. However, I do remember that during the 80's the American public awoke to the fact that the troops were treated in a shabby fashion during the war. As a grade school student, I remember when the Vietnam Memorial was unveiled in Washington DC, and that it was not only a monument honoring the sacrifice of our solders, but it was also - in a way - an apology to the troops and their families.  When the Wall was dedicated, I remember hearing stories of how soldiers coming home from Vietnam were protested, ridiculed, and, sadly, in some cases spit on. Too many veterans said things like, "We weren't very popular when we came home" or "We were embarrassed to wear our uniforms in public" or "The protesters called us 'baby killers' and spit on us." We don't have this problem anymore. Even during the controversial Iraq War, American troops and their families rightly enjoyed strong public support. Our troops receive the very best our country can give -- except when it comes to medical errors in military hospitals. We're still spitting on our troops.

The New York Times recently published a lengthy article - see link below - about how active duty service members who experience adverse events in military hospitals cannot receive explanations, answers, or even an apology. Soldiers and their families are driven crazy, says the Times article. Our warriors get the silent treatment. The article contrasts the military's approach with the small but growing number of public/civilian hospitals embracing disclosure and apology. One of the excuses given by the military for not talking is that doing so might encourage lawsuits by civilians who receive care in military hospitals...where have we heard that argument before?

Note: Active duty military personnel are not allowed to file medical malpractice lawsuits....the Times articles states that military leadership fear a breakdown in military discipline if lawsuits were allowed. So, covering up medical mistakes and not meeting the financial and emotional needs of injured soldiers and their families is good for discipline and morale? Gimme a break.

As a US Senator and President, Barack Obama has been a leader in the disclosure movement. Moreover, Obama dramatically changed the military by allowing gays to openly serve. Perhaps during his last months in the White House, Obama can again change the military by advocating for disclosure, apology, and fair compensation to troops injured by medical errors. Don't our troops deserve the very best?

Here is the link for the New York Times article.

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