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Feres doctrine affects service member medical malpractice claims

On Behalf of | Jul 15, 2016 | Medical Malpractice

Members of the military sacrifice a lot to protect this country. One thing that they give up is the right to sue the government. While that might not seem like such a huge deal to a lot of people, it can actually be a very big deal for a service member who is the victim of medical malpractice at a military hospital.

Some are saying that the Feres doctrine, which is the doctrine that notes active duty military members can’t sue the government for injuries suffered while on active duty, needs to be revisited by the U.S. Supreme Court. The issue at hand is that the doctrine was meant to cover injuries related to military service. It is being applied to other injuries as well. The following story is an example of the misapplication:

One lieutenant commander in the Coast Guard is taking legal action after his wife’s death due to a birth injury. His wife was a lieutenant in the Navy. The woman went to Naval Hospital Bremerton to have their child. She was a labor and delivery nurse at that hospital. When she suffered a hemorrhage after the birth, swift action was taken to stop the bleeding.

Sadly, the nursing staff’s efforts weren’t enough. The bleeding continued. A balloon device was deployed too late, as was a blood transfusion. The woman died after her bodily systems shut down and her heart rate became erratic.

The woman’s husband has filed a lawsuit in the hopes of getting the Feres doctrine revisited. While there isn’t a huge chance that the Supreme Court will hear the case, it is bringing awareness to a troubling issue.

If you were harmed by a medical professional, you have the right to seek compensation. That right is marred for the members of the military. Some say taking away that right for members of the military leaves medical teams in military and government hospitals without a high enough level of accountability.

Source: Military Times, “Tragedy and injustice: The heartbreaking truth about military medical malpractice,” Patricia Kime, July 10, 2016