Clinton Measure Would Boost Brain Injury Care for Troops
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) on Thursday introduced legislation that would allocate $3.75 million for improving diagnosis and care for returning veterans with traumatic brain injuries, Long Island Newsday reports.
Such injuries often are the result of roadside bomb attacks and can cause amnesia, loss of speech function and cognitive problems. The measure would create a pre-combat cognitive test that would be used as a baseline to determine the extent of mental impairment for service members returning from duty. The measure also would improve services for returning troops and their families, according to Clinton.
She said, "Our government was not prepared and refused to become prepared to deal with the number and severity of returning heroes who were injured." Clinton also said she would like the Bush administration to recalculate the way it determines disability benefits for wounded troops, adding, "We don't have a lot of confidence in what we've seen. ... There are many systematic problems" (Thrush, Long Island Newsday, 3/29).
The New York Times on Friday examined how failure to use a Department of Defense digital medical records system has led to medical errors and delayed care.
The system, called the Joint Patient Tracking Application, was developed in 2004 to allow military officials and physicians to track the medical care given to troops from war zone hospitals to hospitals in the U.S. The system is designed to give doctors or other personnel access to clinical data and tests. However, only 13 of 70 military treatment facilities in the U.S. are using the system, despite a mandate from the Pentagon requiring that they do so.
As a result, "military doctors say they are less able to learn from mistakes since they cannot track the progress of wounded soldiers from one location to another," while others "complain of costly and redundant testing," the Times reports.
Tony DeNicola, who formerly was in charge of implementing the digital system for DOD, said, "We couldn't get the services to use the system because they wanted to use their own. We also never got enough cooperation from the office in charge of electronic patient records." DeNicola noted that some veterans might not be receiving a monthly $430 check for combat-related injury rehabilitation because the money is distributed based on data from the digital system (Urbina/Nixon, New York Times, 3/30).