Bill would OK troops malpractice suits

May 23, 2008 at 9:36 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 23 (UPI) -- Members of the U.S. military would be able to sue the government for medical malpractice under legislation introduced in Congress.

The proposal was introduced by Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., to reverse a 1950 U.S. Supreme Court that protects the military from malpractice claims, Legal Newsline reported Friday.

"Joining the military should not mean that one has to give up his or her right to hold medical providers accountable," Hinchey said.

The bill, the Carmelo Rodriquez Military Medical Accountability Act, is named for a U.S. Marine sergeant who died last year from skin cancer after military doctors erred in his treatment.

Carmelo Rodriquez of Ellenville, N.Y., who died at 29, had melanoma that had been misdiagnosed as a birthmark or wart by military doctors in Iraq.

"The death of Carmelo Rodriguez is an extraordinary tragedy that has left his family with nowhere to turn," Hinchey said.

The legislation would reverse the Feres Doctrine, which prohibits lawsuits for medical negligence that harms service members. It would allow claims for damages for death or personal injury resulting from negligence, the failure to act or wrongful acts in healthcare provided by the military.

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