Update: Carmelo Rodriguez’ Ignored and Missed Diagnosis

I first told you about Carmelo Rodriguez last January. He joined the Marines in 1997 and during his induction physical, the doctor found a spot of melanoma, recorded it in Rodriguez’ medical record, but never told him about it.

Over the years, that spot grew, became inflamed, and filled with pus. While in Iraq, the military doctor told Carmelo not to worry about it, it was just a wart. In January of this year, Carmelo died from the melanoma.

Compounding the ignored diagnosis was the fact that the Marines discharged Carmelo to go home and die. Then, because he had been discharged, they refused to pay for his military funeral.

Further compounding this enormous insult to his family, and the tragedy of his loss, is the fact that, by law (called the Feres Doctrine), the military doctor who missed Carmelo’s diagnosis cannot be sued.

Carmelo Rodriguez is back in the news today. The congressional representative from the district in which he lived has introduced a new bill to change that inability to sue. Called the Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Malpractice and Injustice Act, it allows soldiers, or the families of lost soldiers, to sue the military doctor who harms the soldier or misdiagnoses him or her.

The question here is fairness. It seems quite unfair to me that an ordinary citizen would have the ability to right a wrong through the courts, but a soldier, the very person who fights to retain that right for the rest of us, doesn’t have that same ability.

I’ll be watching what Congress does with this. I expect you will be watching, too.

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Trisha Torrey
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