Allegations Concerning Inadequate Medical Care at Elmendorf Air Force Base Hospital

HRD-78-55: Published: Feb 10, 1978. Publicly Released: Nov 18, 1982.

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Allegations were made of inappropriate and inadequate medical treatment and care of three patients by the staff of Elmendorf Air Force Hospital in Alaska. The medical advisor concluded that one of the patients was one of a small number of persons who develop liver damage resulting in liver necrosis and subsequent death. Regardless of the care she received, the patient would have died as there is currently no means available to treat liver necrosis. However, the attending physician was incorrect in prescribing a high protein diet and certain drugs contraindicated in liver disease treatment. At least eight different drugs were dispensed to a second patient during an 18-day period. The patient was given too many drugs, and she was treated twice in the outpatient department without parental permission although she was not in need of emergency care. The third patient was admitted to the hospital for depression and 5 days later committed suicide. The hospital is not designed and staffed to provide proper care for suicidal patients, and he should have been referred elsewhere. A random sample of patient records indicated that patients at the hospital generally receive appropriate treatment and that the medical staff's qualifications are excellent. However, some of the staff physicians are also engaged in outside employment.

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