Military Medical Malpractice Strikes Close to Home—It’s Safer to Serve in Afghanistan than Deliver a Baby or Have Your Appendix Out at Madigan Army Medical Center

A recent New York Times investigation took a hard look at the pervasive problem of military medical malpractice.

[T]he military system has consistently had higher than expected rates of harm and complications in two central parts of its business — maternity care and surgery.

More than 50,000 babies are born at military hospitals each year, and they are twice as likely to be injured during delivery as newborns nationwide, the most recent statistics show. And their mothers were more likely to hemorrhage after childbirth than mothers at civilian hospitals, according to a 2012 analysis conducted for the Pentagon.

In surgery, half of the system’s 16 largest hospitals had higher than expected rates of complications over a recent 12-month period . . .

Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord just outside Tacoma, Washington is the worst of the worst.

According to the New York Times American College of Surgeons report Madigan Army Medical has an alarmingly high rate of botched surgeries. From 2012 to 2013 Madigan’s surgical error rate was 150 percent higher than expected.

Patients have a right to safe, competent medical treatment at both civilian and military hospitals.

Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals and other military facilities like Madigan are agencies of the federal government.

The Federal Tort Claims Act grants citizens limited rights to to sue the federal government for harm caused by the actions of federal employees or agencies including medical malpractice.

Non-active military personnel who have received substandard medical care from military facilities located within the United States may bring a military malpractice claim under the FTCA.

Dependents of active duty military personnel, such as spouses and children, can also bring claims claim under the FTCA.

From 2006 to 2010, the government paid an annual average of more than $100 million in military malpractice claims from surgical, maternity and neonatal care . . .

An examination of court records and Pentagon data . . . turned up dozens of settlements, ranging from $30,000 to $10 million.

The time limit (called statutes of limitation) for bringing a medical malpractice claim under the FTCA is two years from the time a plaintiff learns of the existence and cause of the injury.  Let us know if you think you or a family member was a victim of medical malpractice at Madigan or another facility operated by the federal government (including the VA).

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