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September 23, 2014
The New York Times published an article several months ago, “In Military Care, A Pattern of Errors but Not Scrutiny,” pointing out significant medical malpractice issues in military hospitals, a sprawling medical network that is entirely separate from the scandal-plagued VA system. These hospitals provide care for 1.6 million active-duty service members and their families.
Under Federal law, active-duty service members are required to use military hospitals and clinics, but unlike other patients, they cannot sue the government. However, non-military personnel can in fact bring a lawsuit for medical negligence.
The VA facilities in the state of Connecticut have a history of medical malpractice. Our firm instituted the case of Bivona v. West Haven Veterans Administration Hospital, which arose out of the hospital’s misdiagnosis that led to the death of Heather Bivona, a 30-year-old Iraqi War veteran. The case against the U.S. Government was settled for $3 million in 2011.
While the Times article does not discuss other government-funded health care facilities, such as Federally Qualified Health Centers like Norwalk Community Health Center, similar problems can also be present. Organized under Federal statutes and qualified to receive Federal funds, these health care facilities are described as “a Health Center Program grantee under 42 U.S.C. 254b, and a deemed Public Health Service employee under 42 U.S.C. 233(g)-(n).” Our firm recently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit in the federal court (Maula v. United States of America) that includes Norwalk Community Health Center as one of the defendants because the Health Center operates as a government-funded facility.
In conclusion, we believe patients seeking treatment in any government medical facility should very carefully track their own care to ensure that they are receiving the proper treatment. Patients should make sure that the physician caring for them receives adequate and detailed medical history. Of the utmost importance, patients should be informed of the nature of the intended treatment and risks. A patient’s best protection is to be involved in his or her own care.