Womack Army Medical Center found lacking in some patient care

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Health care at the nation's biggest military hospital could be improved -- that's the assessment from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. (WTVD)

Health care at the nation's biggest military hospital could be improved. That's the assessment from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

At a Pentagon briefing Wednesday, Hagel said Womack Medical Center was one of eight military medical facilities that need to improve patient access, care, and safety. Air Force and Naval Medical facilities were also on that list.

"We feel strongly that there is nothing more important for our people than the health and the wellbeing of the military people, and their families," said Hagel.

Hagel released the findings of a three-month review of all DOD medical facilities -- some 50 hospitals and 600 clinics. He ordered the review after complaints of delayed health care at VA hospitals surfaced in May.

It was around that time that Womack's commanding officer was removed from duty amid concerns over surgery and infection control. According to reports, two patients in their 20s died and an infant was treated for a viral infection.

The military health care review showed that military-wide some health care was substandard. Between 2010 and 2013, there were 71 incidents of a foreign object left inside a patient's body. Fifty-seven adults died unexpectedly. Forty surgeries were performed on the wrong part of body. There were 34 unexpected infant deaths, and 28 cases of delayed treatment. Statistics for Womack Army Medical Center were not immediately available.

Hagel said military health care should be held to the same exact standards as a military mission.

"I am directing the health leadership to establish a system-wide management system that will help scrutinize and monitor progress," said Hagel.

Overall, Hagel said military health care is good, and comparable to average civilian health care services. However, he also said "average is not good enough," and that he expects military healthcare to be excellent.

Hagel has told military commanders and health care officers to come up with solid plans to fix what's wrong.

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