When Marines Become UNCitizens: A Story of Misdiagnosis, Malpractice and Outrage

[Let me begin this post with a bit of a disclaimer. My husband is a retired veteran of the Air Force — 20+ years — before I knew him, but that doesn’t diminish my pride in the fact that he served our country. His son and our daughter in law are both career Air Force, too, and our other daughter-in-law just completed eight years in the Air Force. So yes, we are huge supporters of our American soldiers.]

The story I’m about to tell you holds several interests and outrages and raises some important questions:

1. Since when is a soldier not a citizen first?

2. How is it that an accurate diagnosis could turn into a MISdiagnosis 10 years later?

This story is told on CBS’s evening news — about a young soldier, Sgt. Carmelo Rodriguez, who joined the Marines in 1997. During his induction physical, the doctor noted a mole and called it a melanoma on Carmelo’s records. But nothing was said to Carmelo, and the paperwork was filed. Carmelo went through training, has spent these ensuing years in the Marines, and was deployed to Iraq…

…. where last year, the mole began to get inflamed and filled with pus…. so the sargeant checked in with the military doctor. He was told it was a wart, and to “wait and see.”

Sargeant Carmelo Rodriguez died 18 months later, of melanoma.

Turns out, according to the military itself, that there are “several hundred” cases of misdiagnosis of medical problems for soldiers in Iraq each year. Others have died from misdiagnosis and medical mistakes, too.

And I SO UNDERSTAND THE OUTRAGE! Because I’ve been there — misdiagnosed and floundering. There are tens of thousands of us — but most of us aren’t soldiers…

So here is OUTRAGE #2: Because Sgt. Carmelo Rodriguez was misdiagnosed by a military doctor, his family has no legal recourse. None Nada. A law passed in 1950, called the Ferris Doctrine, removes that right for soldiers, even when injured by the actions of a military doctor.

But wait! There’s more!  (and you can read the rest of the post at my new blog location…)

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