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US Military to Review Its Medical Care After Press Report


The U.S. Defense Department has announced two reviews of care provided to wounded service members and their families at the main military health care facilities in the Washington area, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Maryland. VOA's Al Pessin reports from the Pentagon.

According to a department news release, the secretaries of the army and the navy have ordered a review of the medical treatment at the two hospitals, and there will be a separate, independent, review of administrative procedures and care provided to service members after they are discharged from the facilities.

The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Dr. William Winkenwerder, is quoted as saying the department wants to improve "the clinical and administrative processes" at the facilities, and the temporarly living conditions for wounded service members and their families.

The announcement says the independent review group will do its work "promptly" and will have "unrestricted access to all facilities and personnel."

The moves come after the Washington Post reported poor living conditions and difficult bureaucratic procedures at the army's premier facility, the Walter Reed Medical Center.

Earlier Tuesday, Defense Department Spokesman Bryan Whitman said the prestigious hospital provides the best medical care possible for wounded service members, but that more is needed. "Taking care of our wounded service members is about taking care of the entire person. And taking care of the entire person is making sure that their administrative needs are taken care of, that when they're outpatients that their housing needs are taken care of. And there are some shortcomings there. And they've been identified. And the army has been working on them, I'm told, for some time. But it is something that the department takes very seriously, the secretary takes very seriously, and those issues are going to get addressed," he said.

Whitman says senior leaders were not aware of many of the problems identified by the Washington Post, and want to ensure those and any similar issues are addressed throughout the military medical system.

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