Skip to comments.Arlington airman can't sue for botched surgery
Posted on 07/27/2009 12:34:07 PM PDT by Dubya
An Arlington airman whose legs were amputated after a gallbladder surgery went terribly wrong lacks the same basic legal right to sue his surgeon that state and federal prisoners enjoy, a New York congressman says.
(Excerpt) Read more at star-telegram.com ...
Turley calls the Feres Doctrine "perhaps the most insidious and infamous legal doctrine still on the books."
"It has done untold harm to literally tens of thousands of military families in its history," he said in an interview.
Turley said part of the 1950 Supreme Court case involved a military doctor who left a 30-inch towel in the stomach of the patient. "The towel actually read property of the U.S. Army on it," he said.
In another case, a sailor who went into surgery to have a cyst removed came out a quadriplegic, Turley said. On his blog, Turley lists several other "examples from the military malpractice-free-zone":
Lt. Cmdr. Walter Hardin spent 11 months with red lesions from his legs to his torso that a doctor classified as eczema. The condition was correctly diagnosed as cancer shortly before he died.
Sailor Dawn Lambert had to have a fallopian tube removed, but military surgeons left five sponges in her abdomen. Complications forced a second surgery that would remove her other fallopian tube and left her infertile. She was given $66 monthly in disability pay.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Dean Patrick Witt had appendicitis but was repeatedly misdiagnosed and sent home with some antibiotics. When he finally collapsed at home, he was rushed into surgery. He came out brain-dead.
Is this because it’s tragic a doctor screwed up or because Trial Lawyers are being deprived of their fees?
That’s disgusting. Government health care at its less ugly side.
It IS disgusting. As I’ve said before.....if government health care cannot even take care of our heroes....how in the hell is it going to take care of us?
Anything “free” comes with no guarantee.
LEGS amputated after gall-baldder surgery?
...and here I’ve been going around my whole life thinking my gall-bladder was somewhere in my gut.
Sounds like some kind of sepsis. Is there a doctor in the house?
The wife, OTOH, may sue the living crud out of the USAF.
I suspect she is fending off competing lawyers as I write this.
I suspect the surgeon was working up for some kind of board certification - a common problem.
A good side effect would for the ‘doctor’ to be
drummed out out of the AF
lose his medical license
Had a run-in with a bad doc back in the day as an AD Air Force puke. The ‘Doc’ wound up as a real estate salesman in Moses Lake, WA. No pay or pension.
Having served in the military, I know a couple of other horror stories that happened to people we knew. These things happen all the time.
Welcome to Obamacare.
Among them are veterans who have tested positive for HIV and hepatitis and others who suffered emotional distress after the VA provided them with initial positive blood tests for infections that turned out to be wrong.
The doctor “nicked” his aorta which lost blood flow to his legs.
Yes, but these are young men and women who have volunteered their lives. And considering what they are being paid for it, they are giving it free of cost to the country.
It isn’t easy to sue the government.
They nearly killed my wife in similiar cases. Sheer incompetence and disregard for pain and suffering. One wanted to put her on a flight to hawaii KNOWING she would die before arriving.
I filed an IG complaintn managed to get a letter of reprimand for one of them. Then her records ‘disappeared’ending any further discussion.
My wife didn’t tell me all of this until we were out of country. Otherwise the quack woulda ended up hamstrung
I guess it depends on if it was your life that was runned or not.
Unless things have changed since I was in the Army Medical Corp 30 some years ago, a doctor did not have to have a medical license to practice in the military or VA.
I was joking...
How about that the serviceman will for the rest of his life be slammed from pillar to post trying to get even adequate care in the sham we call the VA. This is being treated as fundamentally no different than a war injury, except he won’t even have a purple heart to show for it.
If Obamacare does pass, and the same rule is put in force for civilians, then it looks like the trial lawyers will be out of luck. Do they realize this?
That changed in 1987. All AD and civil service military docs except those in a training program must have an active, valid license in one of the US states. I was on AD when it took place and there were a fair number of people who had to retake the USMLE in order to get a license.
Oh man, NOQ you are really scaring me....no license - from anywhere?
How about we are all headed there thanks to an ill informed public making uninformed decisions in the voting booth. It sucks to be the airman, but it is a clear example of two points. First, the government should never be put in charge of health care. Second, the government recognizes the clear danger posed by overzealous trial lawyers and shields themselves from them.
Actually worse than war injury, I think. War injury, you do get life time priority at VA for treatment of consequences of same. Not so sure about “friendly fire” surgeon muck-ups.
Thanks for the tip.
If he has no spouse, can his dog or cat sue?
In this case - he is married. Nothing was mentioned about pets.
If not, his family has a good shot. Given what has been released, this poor Airman will need a lot of dough to live even a bit of a comfortable life.
BTW, you are not one of those ...eerrr...folks, that believe pets are (the same as human) family members or call their dog “My baby” - are you?
Here’s a link to a related story with some more specifics on the airman’s surgery:
Apparently, not only did the surgeon puncture a major artery, he waited almost 9 hours before seeking the help of a local civilian hospital and/or a vascular specialist.
In my opinion, the military medical system leaves much to be desired, especially in the area of psychiatric care.
My story: I was a 4.0 sailor, a petty officer right out of “A” School, and was on the fast track to a great career — until I lost my marbles. It happened while I was in Nuke School: the stress levels, lack of sleep, and physical environment of Rickover City triggered in me a full-on case of clinical depression, complete with physical symptoms (shingles, among others), psychotic episodes, the works. I was bad off, doing all kinds of crazy stuff — and no one noticed. Instead, they waited until my grades dropped below the requisite levels, then flunked me out and sent me to the Fleet.
Aboard ship, I started off doing well — but soon enough the Fog began creeping in again. As any carrier sailor knows, the danger of having someone with a severe untreated psychiatric condition aboard ship is extreme — although I wasn’t capable of deliberate violence against others, my inability to focus on (or often even understand) what was going on around me, combined with periodic out-of-my-freaking-mind episodes, could have gotten me (and many others) killed out there. I thank God that my guardian angel was on the job! Toward the end I was doing some truly strange things — a licensed psychiatrist would have diagnosed me correctly in about ten seconds. I was, frankly, nuts.
Finally my LPO sent me to sickbay for an evaluation. I was no longer capable of standing watches; instead I would hide in the #4 shaft alley for hours on end. The Navy M.D. aboard ship classified me as a malingerer with an attitude problem and a bad fungus infection and gave me light duty. By then I was barely rational and totally out of control. At the advice of my shipmates in the division (who were more than understanding, God bless them). I filed a lengthy request for a medical discharge. Denied, of course!
This went on for months, ending not long after our combat deployment to the Gulf of Sidra in April of 1986. Not long after that, I lost it completely, and did some truly crazy stuff as a result of my untreated depression (the details are unimportant; no one but me was endangered or hurt) that ended in my arrest. They court-martialed me, made me do a month in the brig (in solitary — oh, that helped!), busted me four grades, sent me home, and gave me an OTH.
There’s a happy ending. Years later, I finally received the psychiatric care I needed, and I’ve had a successful career and a happy family since then.
But how different might my life have been, and how much more use might the Navy have gotten out of me, if I had been properly diagnosed by a licensed doctor of psychiatry during my time in the service!
Given the lack of quality in the military 30 years ago, I wouldn’t doubt it. Still, that’s scary!
This is tragic because a young Airman lost his legs due to a screw up by an incompetent physician.
Would you please start listing the surgical screw ups that are found in the civilian hospitals. Make it a level playing field.
The medical center involved is a medical school where doctors are trained in special fields such as surgery It was a second year resident (in a four year program) who did the surgery, BUT, there was a fully trained surgeon assisting him, I am told. Used to work there and I still have contacts there.
Under Obama Care will patients be able to sue the government run program? Interesting question!
The doctor nicked his aorta which lost blood flow to his legs.
It is worse than that, because even with a nick in the aorta, there is time to fix the problem. Except the surgeon botched the repair of the aorta and didn’t call in any assistance to help. I think the aorta then clotted at the site of the repair which led to the loss of blood flow to the legs. There was a 6 hour delay to a center with the expertise required to fix the injury. So it wasn’t one error, it was multiple errors in judgement compounding themselves, with the ultimate devastating result.
I don't know.
Its not a level playing field. If you want other screw ups listed I suggest you list them or get someone else to do it.
I am 100% AMERICAN MARINE and I will take up for our military when they get ROTTEN TREATMENT.
You have ever right as an American to your views. We seen to that.
I am glad you are doing well. Keep up the good work.
Sometimes lawyers earn their money.
There were protesters on the train platform handing out pamphlets on the evils of America . I politely declined to take one.
An elderly woman was behind me getting off the escalator and a young (20-ish) female protester offered her a pamphlet, which she politely declined.
The young protester put her hand on the old woman's shoulder as a gesture of friendship and in a very soft voice said, 'Lady, don't you care about the children of Iraq ?'
The old woman looked up at her and said, 'Honey, my father died in France during World War II, I lost my husband in Korea , and a son in Vietnam . All three died so you could have the right to stand here and bad mouth our country.
And if you touch me again, I'll stick this umbrella up your ass and open it!'
So you washed out. Not uncommon nor unusual. It is a select few that can work on ships and submarines. You didn't pass the test. I'm happy the Service has given you the full backing of the United States Military.
The service didn't give me jack except a boot in the ass.
“Under Obama Care will patients be able to sue the government run program? Interesting question!”
That could be why tort reform isn’t an issue.