Woodson sent the memo following New York Times reports based on months of investigation showing "a pattern of avoidable errors that has led to injuries and contributed to some deaths" in MHS facilities.
The reports documented widespread problems in infection control and patient safety, and found that babies born in military hospitals were twice as likely to suffer injuries as newborns nationally.
Mothers giving birth at MHS facilities also were significantly more likely to hemorrhage after childbirth than mothers at civilian hospitals, the reports said.
Pentagon officials did not dispute the Times' reports. The reports instead were seen as a guideline to help "determine exactly where we are" in reforming the system, said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.