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Congress Tackling Loophole That Snares WYO Military Personnel

May 26, 2009

Cheyenne, WY – It's an extended Memorial Day salute to the troops, as Congress promptly tackles a loophole that affects Wyoming military personnel, and all active-duty soldiers, harmed through medical malpractice. Right now, they have no right to take such cases to court, even though their spouses and retired military personnel have the right to hold the government accountable in malpractice situations.

The Carmelo Rodriquez Military Medical Accountability Act was named after a Marine Sergeant who died of skin cancer as a result of military-documented, preventable medical negligence. Susan Steinman, director of policy for the American Association for Justice, says the U.S. House Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee has already approved the bill.

"We should be taking care of our military personnel the right way - and if we don't, they should have a remedy. It shouldn't be that they're left by themselves, that their family members are left with nothing."

Steinman adds the Carmelo Rodriguez story is not an isolated incident. Her organization has collected evidence from around the country, including cases affecting Wyomingites and their families.

"Other cases include people who have gone in for surgery and have had wrong site surgery. Plus, you have issues with improper sterilization of equipment."

A 1950 Supreme Court ruling banned active-duty military personnel, or their surviving family members, from going to court over malpractice related to non-combat injuries. Steinman says the bill to reverse that ruling has not yet encountered any opposition.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY