This is the hook I'm gonna keep tugging on. This isn't just about us any more -- it's about everyone.
Under certain circumstances (such as accidently flying a bomber into the Empire State Building) it IS possible to sue the U.S. Government under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The FTCA permits private parties to sue the United States in a federal court for most torts committed by persons acting on behalf of the United States. The FTCA enables a limited waiver of sovereign immunity. I am looking into it with Federal specialist attorneys as things develop. There may be some interference with the civil rights of patients in the case of medical abuse. These actions would award attorney's fees in the case of a win, which would be huge.
It will not help matters for the CDC that they misappropriated CFS research money, and that Reeves turned on his bosses, spilled the beans and secured whistle blower status. When it all adds up, it will likely be a picture of wanton indifference to public safety and patients rights rather then a few well-intentioned bad calls on CDC's part. Time will tell.
If you are looking for reparations for decades of suffering and neglect, it would be easiest to look to the M.D.'s that treated you badly. In particular, M.D.'s that were not specialists in psychiatry that gave you a psych diagnosis are in trouble. If they had no diagnosis, they are in the clear. But if they labeled a patient as a psych patient without adequately exploring other co-morbidity causes, they are toast depending on how they noted your medical records. It would not surprise me to learn of M.D.s secretly attemting to redact incriminating comments about patients in their records as we speak. In most jurisdictions, the statute of limitations would be two years from the time XMRV is reasonably confirmed as the cause of your CFS symptoms to bring a private action against those M.D.s for damages, which could include negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and medical abuse. These actions are lining up in the pipe with a number of different tort firms, just waiting for the research to firm up before dropping the hammer and serving M.D.s. Malpractice insurance is going to be going up in the U.S. if XMRV pans out as the cause of CFS.
I have wondered about people suing individual doctors for this purpose, as the doctors would likely try to pass the blame to wherever their "medical education" comes in (public health offices, training, for the young ones--med school?). I, personally, don't want to sue doctors (though a few I have dealt with are dangerously incompetent). Doctors blaming lack of education and information would be far more easily heard than have been patient's concerns and even CFSAC's recommendations. I don't think the Secretary of Health could refuse to listen to this.
I thought of a lawsuit because of the well-known differences between civil and public(?) suits. Just as car companies make a decision about whether to recall a model based on if the money they lose will be less than will result from death/injury civil lawsuits, there isn't a lot of morality in these type of decisions. It comes down to money.
Is it possible that the AMA or another major association of physicians could be held liable for patient abuse and neglect? Certainly if the CDC has known even of associations of viral/bacterial complications in CFS patients and if they have had biomarkers reported to them and did not follow up or give the support needed to practitioners, some criminal neglect might be present.
I don't mean to take away from any other type of suffering or marginalization (because it is widespread), but underserving or refusing to serve certain populations cannot be acceptable, and CFS patients are one of these populations. We have been denied medical help, treatment, disability, home care or assistance, etc.
Would it serve if CFS patients state-to-state lodged complaints against doctors/practitioners who refused to treat them, even symptomatically or who maintained that it was a mental illness? I believe you're correct Levi that, if a doctor gives no diagnosis, they are on relatively solid ground. Though, if someone goes into the ER with obvious infection and is not treated because they list CFS as an existing medical condition--that seems like something tangible. I'm guessing that if it's happened to me it's happened to others. Who could even say how long it would take to even get all of one's own records from numerous doctors to see what has been diagnosed?
Do we need XMRV to prove the lack of sufficient care and obvious abuse (in some cases) that has been going on for decades for something that was already known to be a serious illness amongst at least a number of practitioners? I'm not looking for revenge, but it's clear that change needs to happen soon. I am hopeful because of the excitement over XMRV, but it seems there are windows to having a leg to stand on in the case of CFS, and I'm wondering how I can best use this one.