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Medical Malpractice Recovery Rights for U.S. Soldiers?

The United States House of Representatives yesterday (10/7/09) took action that will hopefully lead to the end of discriminatory treatment of soldiers injured by medical malpractice.

Since the Feres decision by the United States Supreme Court in 1950, soldiers have not been able to bring actions for medical malpractice against the government; this is true irrespective of the level of disregard for their well being. Since the 1950’s untold numbers of soldiers after serving acting duty have been subjected to substandard treatment in military medical facilities. The House Judiciary Committee has now approved the Military Medical Accountability Act which would allow soldiers the same rights as  private citizens injured by medical malpractice.

The bill named after Marine Sgt. Carmelo Rodriguez, who served his country with honor for nearly a decade, including a tour of duty in Iraq, and died as a result of preventable medical negligence. A blotch on his buttock went untreated and misdiagnosed multiple times by military doctors.  By the time Sgt. Rodriguez learned it was a cancerous melanoma the damage was done. Sgt. Rodriguez, the father of a 7 year old son passed away shortly after a proper diagnosis.

If this bill is passed by both the House and the Senate, it is anticipated that it will be signed into law by President Obama.

2 Comments

  • VIVIAN CRITTENDEN says:

    I too am a widow of a service member who suffered for 11 years and in many ways was abused by some of the doctors at the military hospitals because they did not want to do their jobs.
    My husband was put on TDRL January, 1999 and was dead Feb.13, 2001. He
    had missed an appointment with one of his physicians on Feb 9th because
    another appointment went over its time and he rescheduled for that Monday
    Feb. 12. He went to the emergency room to get a refill of the medication
    he was out of to cover him for the weekend until he saw his Doctor that
    Monday and the physician in ER gave him the meds at twice the mg than
    what he was taking and when he saw his Doctor that Monday and instead of
    correcting the mg. of the medicine he gave him the same mg. as the ER
    doctor had given and that Tuesday he died. I could not file a wrongful
    death suit against them because of the TDRL and the military could have
    medically discharged my husband in 1999 after the VA declared him 100%
    disable, plus the military knew he would never return to service due to
    the medical condition he was in and they also prolong actual care that
    could have been corrected. He complained about a pain up around the neck
    area in 1986 but all they did was took an x-ray of his back informed him
    he had a herniated disk and told him that was why he had the pain in the
    neck area. As he continued to go to them and tell them he believe there
    was more he was insulted by the doctors and even his change of command
    about always going to doctor appointments and missing work. They had him
    to see chiropractors and even see a physiatrist and tried to convince him
    it was all in his head.
    It wasn’t until he had to really piss a doctor off in April 1997 that
    the doctor decided to order a cat scan told him to make an appointment with him
    in 2 weeks for the results and he will see that there was nothing else wrong.
    A couple of days later his doctor called him to come in about the
    results of the scan and it recommend a MRI. which the appointment was
    scheduled at the local hospital. Soon after the MRI was done on a Friday
    evening. Saturday morning I had dropped my husband off at a class he was taking
    and stopped to do some shopping and when I returned home my voice mail
    was full with calls from the military and local hospital needing to
    contact my husband. I found out that it was in reference to a test he
    had taken. I told them where he was and I would go pick him up and bring
    him in. I was informed to avoid all bumps as possible in the road
    bringing him in. I got him to the military hospital and they immediately
    had him to get on a board and they strapped him down and they
    transferred him to the local hospital to see an neurosurgeon that was on
    standby waiting to see him. We found out that my husband was a sneeze or
    speed bump from severing his spinal cord to be paralyzed from the neck
    down.
    The local surgeon wanted to do the surgery that Sunday because of how
    serious the situation was but they could not locate anyone with the
    authority to give the okay, so the surgeon released my husband against
    his better judgment and ordered him to complete bed rest with no
    movement unless necessary. When we saw his physician who he pissed off
    that ordered the scan he stated well don’t forget I discovered this.
    They had my husband on all sorts of upper and downer medications and
    soon after it was found out that he was not faking his pain they just
    pored on the super strong medications where my husband was never the
    same. To look at him he was a very healthy individual and you would not
    think of him being as sick as he was. There was no way any of his
    physicians were talking to each other, because they would not have prescribe some of the medications he was on. They tried to claim he was an agoraphobic but
    that did not happen until they started to drug him like crazy. He even
    started to have seizures and they couldn’t tell me why he had started to
    have them. The medical list where they are to keep a record of when he
    would pick up his medication was not kept correctly where I have
    medication bottles with the dates he picked up his medications but it is
    not on the list the pharmacy kept. When I filed a wrongful death suit
    against the military they couldn’t find any records and I had to provide
    them with copies of his medical records that I had received from the
    attorney who represented my husband on his social security case. The
    federal judge who was assigned and my husband’s attorney won the case do
    to the overwhelming evidence in his medical records that he would never
    be able to hold a regular job. When my husband died I and our children were wronged and the military hides its wrong deeds behind TDRL and keep the physicians
    who do they wrong deeds safe. I received a letter (after my attorney
    returned my copy of my husbands medical records informing me that we
    could not file a suit because he was TDRL) from Ft. Meade stating that
    my husband received excellent care when I have the proof that he didn’t
    and at that time I had 6 months to file again, and if I would have it
    would have come out the same way he was TDRL and as it was explained to
    me is that when you are TDRL you are not in but you are not out the
    military but everything like life insurance and TRICARE is taken. What
    the member receives to live on is nothing. I feel it is happening to
    the ones who are returning from the conflicts that are going on now. My
    husband was only 42 years old and we had a lot of life to live but due
    to the military medicare and TDRL my family and our friends who knew him
    were robbed and no one has been held accountable for their actions or
    mistakes. How do I get justice, how dose his children get justice, what
    do I tell my grandchildren about the wrong and suffering we have had to
    endure at the hands of military medicine? Can anyone answer me or will
    they continue to let them hide behind TDRL?
    Please don’t get me wrong I support out troops a 100% and I just wish my governments medical would do the same. I have sent letters to the different committees with no response. January 4,2010 would have been married 30 years and we have 3 grand babies he will never get to play with and spoil. Whatever I can do to help this go through I am willing. I thank the Rodideuz’s family for bringing the horror to light and they have my support on this.

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