Military Members Have No Recourse For Medical Malpractice

Our military service members stand ready to put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms upon which our country is based. Yet, they are not provided the basic remedies available to other citizens who are victims of medical malpractice.
Under a 60-year-old Supreme Court ruling known as the Feres doctrine, service members are banned from suing the federal government for even the most egregious medical errors.
Pending before Congress is a bill that would remove that inequity. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., is the lead sponsor of the bill, the Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act, which would amend federal law to “allow members of the Armed Forces to sue the United States for damages for certain injuries caused by improper medical care, and for other purposes.”
Rodriguez was a Marine Corps platoon leader and Iraq war veteran who died at age 29 from a melanoma that military doctors at first correctly diagnosed but failed to refer for treatment and then later misdiagnosed as a birthmark.
“The 7-year old son and family he left behind currently have no legal recourse for this tragic case of malpractice,” Hinchey said in a statement. “Those who were at fault have not been held accountable.”
The bill recently gained the support of the 370,000-member Military Officers Association of America. The Association’s president, retired Vice Adm. Norb Ryan, wrote a letter of support to Rep. Hichey in which he noted, that legal recourse for medical negligence is available to all other citizens, including military dependents, military retirees and survivors and their dependents, and even federal prisoners and wartime detainees. He stated that MOAA agrees that it is inconsistent to treat service members differently.
The bill has also been endorsed by the American Association for Justice, the American Bar Association, Veterans Equal Rights Protection Advocacy, the Alliance for Justice, and Protecting Our Guardians.
The bill recently was approved by the full House Judiciary Committee and awaits a House floor vote.

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