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Wednesday, March 7, 2007

He was told to find his own way, he testified: Access to care

Wearing a black eye patch, Sgt. John Daniel Shannon testified to a House committee, convened at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington DC on March 5. He described how he’d been struck in the head by a bullet from an AK-47 in November 2004 near Ramadi, Iraq. The injury caused a traumatic brain injury and cost him his eye.

He was returned to the U.S., and was already moved out of the hospital within a week of his injury. Though he still was extremely disoriented, they handed him a map and told him to find his own way to his new residence on the hospital campus. There, he waited several weeks for someone to contact him and tell him how to get additional treatment. He eventually called people himself until he reached his case worker. Staff in the bureaucracy lost his paperwork several times, and each time the brain-injured soldier had to start over.

So do we!

Advice for patients with complex needs: If your case worker doesn’t contact you promptly, perhaps you should demand a caseworker who will.

Advice for citizens: Express your opinion to the Commander in Chief at 202-456-1414.

Read our related Patient Safety Quiz, or read Michael Luo’s article, “Soldiers Testify over Poor Care at Walter Reed,” in the NY Times.

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