Complex injuries blamed at Walter Reed

March 5, 2007 at 2:09 PM

WASHINGTON, March 5 (UPI) -- The complexity of injuries and privacy concerns have exacerbated problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, testimony in Washington indicated Monday.

Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley told a U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing the hospital was ill-prepared for the complex nature of the injuries suffered by some soldiers -- as well as the sheer numbers.

"Over the last couple of years, there's a subset of patients with more than just one human system engaged in recovery -- emotional, physical and mental," Kiley told the hearing in the auditorium at Walter Reed. "It takes a long time for them to heal. Some of the tools of science and medicine ... we're just starting to develop."

Cynthia Bascetta, director of healthcare for the Government Accountability Office, said Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations, which preclude the sharing of medical records, may be posing a barrier for patients moving from acute care at Walter Reed to the general Veterans Administration hospital facilities.

U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., shot down that excuse, saying simply asking the patient if it's OK to share the records would solve the problem.

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