Last week, the New York Times featured a grim and disheartening account of a young Air Force recruit who died after collapsing during a mandatory run. The young man, T.J. Moore, had an underlying health condition, genetic in nature, which has been known to cause sudden death after spells of physical exertion. The run itself, at a mile-and-a-half, was fairly straightforward, six laps around a track, one of many routine exercises common in basic training. T.J. Moore had failed previous tests, which kept him out of training exercises earlier in the week. The potentially fatal nature of his condition must have been suspected. Then, a processing error was experienced somewhere down the line, and Mr. Moore was once again thrust into cardiovascular drills. Pertinent details were ignored and the results were tragic. More importantly, and more devastating, this outcome was wholly avoidable.
How could a disagreement such as this remain unreconciled? If there were questions at all about a participant’s ability to safely engage in physical activity of this sort, why would anyone chance to risk it? Surely the mile-and-a-half run itself wasn’t of paramount importance. Why even roll the dice when the stakes were so critically high?
Those questions will remain unanswered. Negligent scenarios such as this, wherein miscommunication leads to the death of a young man, aren’t as uncommon as one might think amongst members of the military community. And the prevalence of these tragedies only deepens the heartbreak. However, it’s the clarity and availability of information surrounding cases of possible negligence that are of deepest concern. Access to relevant information is largely denied, details widely obscured. T.J. Moore’s mother, for instance, received a 15-page report maintaining that the Air Force had followed protocol, absolving themselves of all culpability.
What may shock the average citizen is learning just how little freedom is given to the families of those fighting for our freedom. If a soldier is injured in battle (or otherwise), they are often given only the one medical option provided by their particular branch. If they receive substandard care, there is essentially no chance of opting for alternative care. If medical malpractice is suspected, victims of said malpractice and their families have no recourse. With nowhere to turn, and no attractive options presented to those in need, these families are often left deeply frustrated, aggrieved and upset.
In fact, it can be said that the military actively safeguards itself against medical malpractice lawsuits with the system they’ve enacted. Only as recently as a year and a half ago were families able to file inquiries / grievances about the treatment their relatives received. The results of such inquiries were withheld from those that submitted them, per a government law that keeps military hospital and clinic files confidential. If you think this protocol seems obtuse, you are not alone. Patients, and those that speak on their behalf, are met consistently with pro forma letters, out-and-out refusals, and continuances of inadequate treatment in response to their complaints. Their quests for answers too often prove futile.
The system is insular. Deaths or other avoidable injuries aren’t reported to national databases, but instead are notated internally. These internal databases are likewise precluded from public view, subject to the same guidelines that keep those aforementioned files confidential. Trying to find closure often leads the bereaved down an endless stream of dead ends.
The Pentagon has promised comprehensive transparency and higher all-around levels of medical care, but in the meantime, thousands are negatively affected by the current, defective system.
Kaplan Lawyers PC
If you’re reading this, it’s likely because you or someone you love has made the ultimate sacrifice. If they have pledged their life for a greater cause, if they have risked everything in order to defend our great country, why, then, should they not be afforded the same rights as an ordinary citizen?
We at Kaplan Lawyers PC would like to take this opportunity to first thank you or your loved one for your service. Without the bravery and dedication of people like you, this great nation would be far less great. We want you to know that there are legal options in place specifically for situations such as yours. Our experienced and compassionate attorneys can help walk you through the steps necessary in securing compensation for your hardships or for your loss. Navigating the oftentimes complex and convoluted landscape of medical malpractice law, especially as it pertains to active duty service members, can be a veritable nightmare. We’ll help you secure and submit the proper paperwork and compile the evidence necessary for defending your rights and winning you the compensation you deserve. Our consultations are a free and easy way to get started.
You have put your life on the line fighting for the rights of the citizens of the United States of America. Isn’t it time someone started fighting for you?