Financial implications of the Walter Reed Neglect Scandal

Walter Reed Army Medical Center (henceforth herein Walter Reeds) was in its early years reputed for its comprehensive rehabilitation approach, that ensured maximum recovery of military personnel who had been injured or disabled (Blum, 2008). During its formation, in 1909, the medical center was charged with integration of patient care, teaching and research; and providing, to American servicemen, the highest standard of care (Blum & Fee, 2008). From an organization offering military medicine, Walter Reeds had been transformed into an institution providing rehabilitative therapy for personnel suffering from disabilities to help them successfully integrate back in the community to the best possible extent (Blum, 2008). The center rapidly expanded during the World War I and II with later wars such as the Korean and Vietnam ones providing a high number of clients to the center (Blum & Fee, 2008). Out of such increased need for its services the center had expanded its facilities to include an institute of research, an armed forces pathology institute, a physical disability agency of the Army, and other smaller units that continue to serve clients to date (Blum & Fee, 2008).

Despite this bright history, the institute’s problems began with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The center was noted for its inefficiency in offering the rightful care and service to veterans who had returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. In focus group interviews conducted by the Department of Veteran Affairs in August 2004, many veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars had for instance expressed their frustration and anger with the bureaucracy they had to go through to access care at medical center (Heltman & Mercer, 2007).  Such inefficient operation of the center was finally brought in the limelight in February 2007, through a series of articles published in the Washington Post. One of the articles for instance documented the widespread neglect and frustration of soldiers who were recuperating from the injuries sustained while serving the military in Iraq and Afghanistan wars (Priest & Hull, 2007). Some of these effects resulted from the lengthy medical processing that at times involved filing as much as 22 documents with eight diverse commands that were mainly off-post (Priest & Hull, 2007). Delays also resulted from existence of information systems that were not synchronized to communicate with one another making record keeping and effective operations a time consuming task (Priest & Hull, 2007).  Following the intensive media coverage of the situation various investigations were instituted revealing the inefficiency at the center to have been institutionalized with inadequate funding catalyzing the quick dilapidation of facilities at the medical center (Blum & Fee, 2008).

The Walter Reed issue bears various implications for the future of military health system. The purpose of this paper is to assess the financial, ethical and legal implications of the Walter Reeds Army Medical Center and Veterans Administration facilities healthcare management issue and offer possible solutions to the issue. The financial, ethical and legal implications are first addressed then possible solutions to the issue presented noting the solutions that have already been implemented. Finally the paper will present a plan that can be used to address the issue identifying the roles of various participants, the obstacles that may be faced with the suggested solutions and the approaches to overcome these obstacles. Proceed to part 2 here.

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