Monday, April 20, 2015

Rising Issue with the Military Medical System

T.J. Moore was a 19 year old recruit for the U.S. Air Force who at the time mysteriously passed away amidst running a 1.5 mile test run. One year later, the answers as to why his death occurred are still unclear to Moore's family. The NY Times has discovered that Moore had been pulled from recruit testing days before his death due to a genetic condition that had been overlooked.

Moore is one of many cases to demonstrate the military medical system's inability to be held accountable. In a system responsible for 1.3 million service members, members are not allowed to seek medical care elsewhere without specific approval. Moreover, they are prohibited from filing malpractice suits in cases of death or injury. Federal law essentially prevents military service members from obtaining any answers if they file complaints within the medical system.

Moore's case, among many other military medical deaths, point to a larger issue with the healthcare service members receive. Families and loved ones are often intentionally barred from any investigation of not only the truth, but any details. More specifically until 2009, health care professionals who delivered poor quality care were reported not to the national database responsible for reporting medical problems but rather an internal database. With the final realization of this problem, 54 hospitals and hundreds of clinics have recently come to attention for its medical practices and safety investigations, or lack thereof.

We would expect the medical care given to military service members to be better than substandard, provided that the safety of the country depends on their services. Thus, is the military medical system something that can be improved or regulated? If so, how?


Cameron Jacobs said...

I think that Americans who serve the military should be allowed to file suits against it. Yes, some incidents are "what they signed up for" and the military should definitely have some wiggle room when it comes to dieing in battle, or other events that are outcomes out of their control. But families should have the right to know their loved one's cause of death. And if it becomes apparent that the military improperly handled the situation they should be held accountable. The military should have a top-notch medical care system, and families should be able to seek justice.

Valerie Chen said...

This system definitely needs more scrutiny from medical ethics professionals and the like. The article mentions service members and family being barred from filing medical malpractice suits, which refers to the doctrine set by the Feres case. That was way back in the 1950s, when the Cold War was in full swing and military strength and unity were considered a top priority; people were willing to compromise on ethical considerations for national security. But now, I think it's time for this case to be reevaluated. Feres prevented civilian courts from challenging decisions made by military officials, but with cases like Moore's, I think this needs a lot of discussion from the highest levels of government.

Alex Medwid said...

In order to improve the military healthcare system, there needs to be much more oversight, transparency, and accountability.

Military members should have the right to get outside healthcare and the right to sue for malpractice. Denying both of these endangers soldiers.

Most likely, there needs to also be an organization in charge of ensuring that military healthcare doesn't fail basic safety standards. This organization needs the authority to hold accountable those who make military healthcare less than safe.