Army Removes the Commander of Fort Bragg's Hospital Following Patient Deaths


Col. Steven J. Brewster was replaced as commander of the Womack Army Medical Center on Tuesday, after recent patient deaths and issues with surgical-infection control at the facility. The Fort Bragg medical center is one of about 40 across the nation that serve active duty members of the military and their families. In a statement issued to the New York Times, the Army said that “senior Army medical leaders have lost trust and confidence" in Brewster. The dismissal comes amidst an ongoing scandal involving medical care in the Veterans Affairs department.

In the past 10 days, two patients in their twenties have died unexpectedly after being treated at Womack. A Joint Commission review required for the facility to keep its accreditation found that it had a "higher-than-expected rate of surgical complications from January 2010 to July 2013," the Times wrote, possibly due to problems with the methods used to control infections in surgical facilities. 

According to the Times, the first recent unexpected fatality was a 29-year-old wife of an active duty serviceman who went to Womack for a "routine tubal ligation." Racheal Marie Rice, 29, returned to the hospital's emergency room hours after the surgery feeling ill. Here's what happened next, according to the Times' report: 

Patients who return that soon after surgery are supposed to be placed on a triage list and seen quickly. But Mrs. Rice waited for about two hours without seeing a doctor, then left to breast-feed her baby, who is about 6 months old, according to people familiar with the case. By the next morning, she was close to death. An ambulance took her from her home back to Womack, where she died.

The second unexpected fatality, who remains unnamed, was 24 and an active duty soldier. He was diagnosed with tachycardia after an emergency room visit, and sent on his way with medication to take. He died shortly after, although it's not known when and where. 

Later on Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced a “comprehensive review” of military health care services. 

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.