Access to Medical Care at Overseas Military Hospitals

Gao ID: T-HRD-90-20 March 29, 1990

GAO discussed military personnel and dependents access to care at six overseas military hospitals. GAO noted that: (1) access to care was a major concern at all six facilities, with particular problems in such dependent-oriented specialties as obstetrics, family practice, and pediatrics, while the orthopedic and psychiatry specialties presented access problems affecting both active-duty personnel and dependents; (2) access problems included long waiting times for routine appointments, lengthy delays in obtaining laboratory results, and reduced or unavailable services; (3) many patients had to travel long distances to obtain medical care; (4) there were not enough physicians, nurses, assistants, medical technicians, and administrative and clerical personnel to meet overseas military health care demands; and (5) other factors contributing to access problems included insufficient authorized staffing levels, lack of equipment, facility constraints, and the amount of time medical staff spent on nonmedical duties. GAO believes that the services: (1) must address systemic problems causing access difficulties to substantially improve access to overseas military health care facilities; (2) should consider retaining a proportionately higher level of overseas medical providers and support staff than other personnel; and (3) may have to make difficult choices regarding military health care facility staffing and equipping in overseas areas not likely to experience significant troop withdrawals.

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