A-40827, FEBRUARY 17, 1932, 11 COMP. GEN. 312

A-40827: Feb 17, 1932

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HIS REMOVAL TO A NAVAL HOSPITAL WAS PREVENTED. HE WAS GRANTED LEAVE FROM DECEMBER 11 TO 13. WAS TAKEN SUDDENLY ILL. WAS CONSIDERED TOO LONG AND DANGEROUS. HE WAS REMOVED TO THE MURRAY HILL SANITARIUM NEAR BY AND OPERATED ON IMMEDIATELY. WHEN HE WAS REMOVED TO THE UNITED STATES NAVAL HOSPITAL. CERTIFICATES OF ATTENDING PHYSICIANS TO THE EFFECT THAT AN IMMEDIATE OPERATION WAS NECESSARY AND THAT TRANSFER TO THE NAVAL HOSPITAL FOR OPERATION WOULD HAVE BEEN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED. YOU ASKED WHETHER PAYMENT OF THE CLAIM BY THE NAVY DEPARTMENT IS AUTHORIZED. IT APPEARS FROM THE CORRESPONDENCE THAT LIEUTENANT FORRESTEL IS UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT SOMETHING SAID IN DECISION OF DECEMBER 18.

A-40827, FEBRUARY 17, 1932, 11 COMP. GEN. 312

MEDICAL TREATMENT - NAVY OFFICERS SECTION 1586, REVISED STATUTES, PROHIBITS PAYMENT FROM PUBLIC FUNDS OF EXPENSES FOR PRIVATE MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL SERVICE INCURRED BY AN OFFICER OF THE NAVY WHILE ON LEAVE, NOTWITHSTANDING THAT BY REASON OF BEING TAKEN SUDDENLY ILL AND THE EMERGENT NATURE OF HIS ILLNESS, HIS REMOVAL TO A NAVAL HOSPITAL WAS PREVENTED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, FEBRUARY 17, 1932:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR SUBMISSION OF FEBRUARY 9, 1932, OF THE CLAIM OF LIEUT. EMMETT P. FORRESTEL FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,057.75 INCURRED BY HIM FOR PRIVATE MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL TREATMENT FROM DECEMBER 12 TO 27, 1931, UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES AS FOLLOWS:

WHILE ON DUTY IN THE BUREAU OF ENGINEERING, NAVY DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, D.C., HE WAS GRANTED LEAVE FROM DECEMBER 11 TO 13, 1931, AND WHILE RIDING ON A SUBWAY TRAIN IN NEW YORK CITY ON DECEMBER 12, 1931, WAS TAKEN SUDDENLY ILL; WENT TO A HOTEL AND CALLED A PRIVATE PHYSICIAN, WHO DIAGNOSED HIS ILLNESS AS PERFORATED GASTRIC ULCER, AND ADVISED IMMEDIATE OPERATION. IN THE OPINION OF THE PRIVATE PHYSICIAN, TRANSFER TO THE UNITED STATES NAVAL HOSPITAL, BROOKLYN, N.Y., WAS CONSIDERED TOO LONG AND DANGEROUS, AND HE WAS REMOVED TO THE MURRAY HILL SANITARIUM NEAR BY AND OPERATED ON IMMEDIATELY, THE OPERATION BEING COMPLETED WITHIN AN HOUR OF THE PHYSICIAN'S CALL AT THE HOTEL. HE REMAINED UNDER TREATMENT IN THE SANITARIUM UNTIL DECEMBER 27, 1931, WHEN HE WAS REMOVED TO THE UNITED STATES NAVAL HOSPITAL, BROOKLYN, N.Y. CERTIFICATES OF ATTENDING PHYSICIANS TO THE EFFECT THAT AN IMMEDIATE OPERATION WAS NECESSARY AND THAT TRANSFER TO THE NAVAL HOSPITAL FOR OPERATION WOULD HAVE BEEN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED. LIEUTENANT FORRESTEL STATES THAT HE HAD BEEN UNDER TREATMENT IN THE NAVAL HOSPITAL, NEW YORK, FOR A GASTRIC-ULCER CONDITION AND THAT SLIGHT SYMPTOMS HAD RECURRED FROM TIME TO TIME UNTIL THE ACUTE ATTACK ON DECEMBER 12, 1931. YOU ASKED WHETHER PAYMENT OF THE CLAIM BY THE NAVY DEPARTMENT IS AUTHORIZED.

IT APPEARS FROM THE CORRESPONDENCE THAT LIEUTENANT FORRESTEL IS UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT SOMETHING SAID IN DECISION OF DECEMBER 18, 1931, A-38948, PERMITS FAVORABLE CONSIDERATION OF HIS CLAIM. THAT DECISION RELATES TO MEDICAL TREATMENT OF AN ENLISTED MAN ON FURLOUGH OR LEAVE OF ABSENCE.

SECTION 1586, REVISED STATUTES, PROVIDES THAT---

EXPENSES INCURRED BY ANY OFFICER OF THE NAVY FOR MEDICINES AND MEDICAL ATTENDANCE SHALL NOT BE ALLOWED UNLESS THEY WERE INCURRED WHEN HE WAS ON DUTY, AND THE MEDICINES COULD NOT HAVE BEEN OBTAINED FROM NAVAL SUPPLIES, OR THE ATTENDANCE OF A NAVAL MEDICAL OFFICER COULD NOT HAVE BEEN HAD.

THAT THIS STATUTE PLAINLY AND POSITIVELY PROHIBITS PAYMENT FROM PUBLIC FUNDS OF EXPENSES FOR MEDICAL OR HOSPITAL TREATMENT OF OFFICERS OF THE NAVY INCURRED WHEN NOT ON DUTY WAS EXPRESSED BY THE COURT OF CLAIMS IN MORROW V. UNITED STATES, 65 CT.CLS. 35, 38, AS FOLLOWS:

* * * THE LANGUAGE OF THE STATUTE IS PLAIN AND FREE FROM AMBIGUITY. ITS PURPOSE AND INTENTION ARE EQUALLY CLEAR. THE GOVERNMENT MAINTAINS WELL- EQUIPPED HOSPITALS AT POSTS AND STATIONS, WITH MEDICAL SUPPLIES, AND A CORPS OF EFFICIENT AND CAPABLE MEDICAL OFFICERS. AN OFFICER, OR OTHER MEMBER OF THE SERVICE, IN THE ARMY OR NAVY, WHEN ON DUTY AT SUCH POSTS OR STATIONS, IS ENTITLED TO MEDICINES AND TO MEDICAL TREATMENT FREE OF CHARGE. IF ON DETACHED DUTY AT A PLACE WHERE SUCH MEDICINES AND TREATMENT WERE NOT AVAILABLE HE MIGHT BE REIMBURSED FOR NECESSARY EXPENDITURES FOR SUCH SERVICE. IN NO CIRCUMSTANCES IS HE ENTITLED UNDER THE LAW TO REIMBURSEMENT UNLESS SUCH EXPENSES WERE INCURRED WHEN HE WAS ON DUTY. * *

LIEUTENANT FORRESTEL WAS ON LEAVE OF ABSENCE AND NOT ON DUTY WHEN THE HOSPITAL AND MEDICAL EXPENSES IN QUESTION WERE INCURRED, AND SECTION 1586, REVISED STATUTES, PROHIBITS THE ALLOWANCE OF EXPENSES OF MEDICAL TREATMENT IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES.