Military medical malpractice

CBS News with a piece wondering if military and VA physicians should continue to be protected from medical malpractice under the Feres Doctrine.

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  • Anonymous

    A very sad story, but if they change the doctrine guess how many physicians they would get to sign up for the military. Even less than they do now.

  • Supremacy Claus

    I do not know the merits of any medmal claim in this case.

    I do know the majority of such claims are weak or frivolous in civilian life. This lack of merit is evident at every stage of a claim, from filing to appeal.

    To have second guessing by land pirates and paid off academic whores of our courageous surgeons saving our heroes at the scene of firefights is treason. These internal traitors should be driven out.

  • Anonymous

    Sad case. However ONCE AGAIN VERY POORLY REPORTED. Did CBS seek out any expert doctor’s opinions? no. They sought out a lawyer’s who ponitificates and states “I hope members of congress are watching”. Why can’t they lay journalism ever get their act together on this type of reporting. From the (extemely lousy) reporting it appears that lesion was present back in 1997 and documented. It “appears” from the extremely limited info that doc screwed up and very well a reprimand is justifiable. Then the piece fast forwards to 2005 to Iraq and blames the docs there for not immediately biopsing the now enlarged lesion. In the perfect world that would have happened. Iraq is not the perfect world as anybody watching TV knows. IMO it is easy for a lawyer to sit back in the US and talk about how reprehensible it is that the patient did not have a skin lesion biopsied in a combat zone. Anybody whose been there knows the reality of non emergency (ie trauma) medical care in a combat zone is a little different. The sad reality is, if the melanoma had been present and growing since 1997 (it was a large size and ulcerated from the sounds of the crap-ass reporting in 2005), it probably had already metastaized by 2005. Anybody who has taken care of metastatic melanoma patient’s knows the prognosis at that stage. You can’t sue government for a myraid of reasons while on active duty not just med-mal and yes, dear reporter, when you are active duty military you don’t have the same “rights” as being a civie. If you did, I highly doubt we would have a functioning military in Iraq right now with soldiers starting to to refuse their third or even fourth tour (they obviously can’t do that). The reporter clearly never served in the military. Though this was an apparent misdiagnosis not a war-related trauma, just think how many trauma surgeons we would have in the military if families/patients could sue for military malpractice for war injuries (the logical conclusion if you want to open up military med mal to the civilian system). I just somehow don’t think this would be a topic of conversation in 1944.

  • K.

    Anonymous 9:43 pointed out that the news report showed the family has a copy of a military doctor’s physical from 1997 describing a melanoma on the right buttock.

    Since no path tests were recorded on the same document, I’m interested as to how the doctor came to that conclusion and very surprised it wasn’t just written down as a suspicious mole.

    The real tragedy is that the documented suspicion of melanoma did not lead to any follow-up testing or, apparently, the informing of the patient as to such in 1997. Obviously his survival rate would have been much better with excision then (when it was likely only cutaneous) as opposed to 2005, when it was finally recognized and treated.

    The report and the government have no details to offer on why there was no follow-up…it might have been as tragic as misfiled paperwork. I can’t imagine they would knowingly diagnose melanoma and send him on his way.

  • Anonymous

    “Since no path tests were recorded on the same document, I’m interested as to how the doctor came to that conclusion and very surprised it wasn’t just written down as a suspicious mole.”

    Correct K: It is pretty hard to figure out from the news report what happened. But we are dealing with Katie Couric after all. “Getting it right” is not her or CBS’s, strong point.

  • Anonymous

    As a primary care physician who is in the process of VOLUNTARILY joining one of our military branches for PATRIOTIC reasons, I am disgusted with CBS – AGAIN. Instead of trying to help fix a problem – too few physicians of all specialties – in a time of highly strained military operations and lack of resources – Katie Couric and CBS want to open the floodgates for the ambulance chasing trial attorneys in the military arena. If the Feres Doctrine is changed the problem will rapidly accelerate, and, as was mentioned above – there will be a giant sucking sound in US military hospitals worldwide as physicians resign commissions in record numbers and leave a tremendous void of healthcare in their wake. Great job CBS / Katie Couric. You talent for acting like morons never ceases to amaze me.

  • Anonymous

    I can see it now in the future of military medicine. Our trauma surgeons desperately trying to save the lives (and bodies) of our wounded soldiers will have to worry aboutthe med mal lawyers looking over theire backs. The sad fact is I have met very few lawyers who have actually served in the military since 1973 (end of the draft). Eric Turkowitz would be proud.

  • Anonymous

    There are lots of things you aren’t allowed to do once in the military. You don’t have the same civil rights as non-military people do. And that is no mystery to the people who are active duty or are veterans. If you volunteer, that is part of that life. That goes for soldiers, sailors, and the doctors who work in the military, too.

    That the news media idiots and the public don’t get this just shows how alienated from the experience of national service the typical American and the TV celebrity social strata are. Go figure.

    I particularly like the touch of having the family members wearing the photo T-shirts at the interview during which the patient happened to die. Talk about bias and staging an event for the benefit of the ratings. I guess fairness and balance weren’t really what they were after in this piece anyway.

    As for lifting the Feres doctrine; that just won’t happen. It would cripple a medical care system that already struggles with too few resources. The only good I could see coming from that is that it might make it necessary for the Navy medical department to allow its HPSP-recruited doctors to complete their residency training rather than be compelled to work as incompletely-trained general medical officers (the kind that have to do lots of physicals and have very little specialty support).

  • Jim Hutchinson

    I’ve only read of a few of these comments. I find none of those arguing against re-visiting broad interpretations of Feres compelling. Speaking to speculative future impact on physician recruiting, referring to ‘the vast majority of these claims are weak or frivolous in civilian life,’ etc., belie the obvious harm and injustice visited on service members by negligent military doctors. I am a victim of Army medicine. I may be permanently disabled because of an Army DO’s failure to treat. And because the deck is stacked is against soldiers in terms of proving compensable injury and disability, the long and expensive fight, for me, to receive the paltry VA benefits to which I am by law entitled has just begun. Before one decides to rant about ‘all’ or ‘every’ or ‘most’ or whatever cases lacking merit, they ought to make themselves aware of the facts first. And the fact is some members of the military are harmed by military doctors. And those who are have no legal recourse because of broad interpretations of Feres. An interpretation the original decision and those making it would have likely found disgusting.

  • Anonymous

    You don’t know the facts here anymore than anybody else. In fact “we” don’t know the “facts” of your “obvious” injury anymore than you know the “facts” of the case above. How about practicing what you preach or does that only happen when you are trying to make a “point”

  • Anonymous

    you can obviously tell that these anonymous idiots who have so much to say against what us military and veterans know have never been in the military of have anyone in their family who’s been military. i agree with you jim.. how do you know, the anonymous above me, that we dont know the facts that we are malpracticed on almost every single day when we walk in to one of our medical facilities. these so called doctors that supposedly know what they are doin better be glad they are protected by that stupid feres law because im sure the government would be asking china for money again of all the law suits they’d have against them and we’d win. God will be their judge when the time comes.

  • ETA

    My husband receives all of his treatments at the VA. He does not miss appointments. I requested his records this week, 8/18/09, and saw he had chronic kidney disease. If I could figure out the labs by using the internet, surely they saw it. He is in stage 2, which is 2 stages from dialysis. We were never told and never treated. Of course, he has developed other conditions from the reduced kidney function. I filed a complaint and took it to the director. Guess what? Now he has appointments with GI, nephrology, urology, neurology, mental health, and the diabetic clinic. He is a Vietnam and Gulf War veteran with 32 years of service.
    Go Figure. How do you think he feels.

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