Thursday, March 15, 2007

Army "care"

Recently in the news there has been quite an uproar over how vets are being treated now that they are returning to civilian life. Unfortunately, the substandard care they are receiving has been going on for years, only to finally be brought to light. I can personally tell of at least 4 times where I received care that was negligent, malfeasance, or one might even consider malpractice.

Case 1: When I first became pregnant with my son, the army "doctor" told me not to take prenatal vitamins, as they would just upset my stomach and cause me to be nauseous. He informed me that I would receive enough nutrients from my diet (this from a man who didn't know my eating habits from Eve's). My son was born with a hole at the end of his spine, a defect caused by not getting enough folic acid during the first trimester, something that would have mostly likely been addressed by my taking prenatal vitamins. For this I will forever feel guilty.

Case 2: I had either an injury or illness and went to the clinic for care. I was in my first trimester at the time. The "doctor" prescribed medications, one of which I could have sworn was not advised for pregnant woman. When I brought this to his attention, his response was a shrug of his shoulders and "I'll have to look it up later". I strongly suggested he check his PDR (physician's desk reference) right then and there before he prescribed it to any other pregnant females. Low and behold, I was correct, there were strong warnings about birth defects caused by this medicine. If I had blindly taken this medication, I could have severely injured my unborn child.

Case 3: During my last trimester, I moved back to the states. Since the local military hospital was deemed to far for me to travel, I was allowed to have my son delivered by a civilian doctor. While I was in the hospital, in early labor, it was determined that I had a common complication of pregnancy, thromobocytopenia; one that could be deadly if undiagnosed. My doctor discovered it when she went to take my blood and I wouldn't stop bleeding. After reviewing my files, she realized that the Army doctors had failed to do a routine screening for it, which would have given the hospital staff some forewarning about my case. Luckily, the civilian staff was able to make the necessary accommodations needed for my delivery.

Case 4: After the birth of my child, I went for my annual well women exam. After waiting 6 weeks for my PAP smear results to come back (they always take 6 weeks), I was told that I had ambiguous results which most likely meant that I cervical cancer, that there were several things that could be done for me, but that we would wait until we had clear results back before any treatment was started. I was sent for another PAP, waited 6 weeks, more results that were difficult to interpret, another PAP after that, more waiting, then results that came back negative. I had three months of worry that I had cancer, which I did not share with anyone since I didn't know if it really was cancer; worry that a new post-partum bluesy mother really did not need.
After doing some research, I found out that many new mothers, especially those who are nursing, come back with irregular PAP smears, that in fact it is a common side effect of pregnancy.

Case 5 (not my case so I didn't count it): Hubby injured his knee while jumping out of an airplane. After going to the clinic, he is given a prescription for 800mg ibuprofen...and nothing else. I had to ask the doctor for crutches, since hubby was using me as his crutch and I really didn't feel like being made any shorter than I already am. Turns out he tore ligaments in his knee.

Did you know as a soldier it is against policy (law?) for you to sue the government for malpractice? Yup, when you sign to receive services through the government's hospitals, you are signing away your right to have doctors be held responsible for their actions.


kilgorsky said...

What an embarrassement for the government.

Sally said...

Well written article.