An Texas airman whose legs were amputated after a gallbladder surgery went terribly wrong lacks the same basic legal right to sue his surgeon that state and federal prisoners enjoy, but a bill sponsored by a New York congressman could change that.
Airman 1st Class Colton Read, 20, was in serious condition at the University of California Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, where he was transferred after surgery that accidentally cut off blood flow to his legs. During the procedure at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., a vital artery, the aorta, was nicked or punctured as a device was being threaded into his belly, leading to complications, his family said Tuesday.
Under a 1950 Supreme Court decision known as the Feres Doctrine, Read or his family cannot collect damages from his military doctors for negligence or malpractice. As a result of the decision, "people who are either enlisted or drafted into the military become secondary, even tertiary citizens of the United States," said Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y.
Hinchey introduced legislation this year that he said would "enable members of the armed services and or their families to hold military medical activities accountable for medical care that may have been negligent."
He added that it would not allow soldiers to sue for combat-related injuries.
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