If you’re injured by a doctor or hospital’s negligence, you generally have a right to sue that doctor or hospital — unless you’re a member of the military and the doctor or hospital that messed up your care happens to be a military doctor or hospital.
If that seems unfair to you, you aren’t alone in your opinion. Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana has stepped forward to ask the Senate to amend its proposed defense policy bill in a way that will allow injury and wrongful death claims when a member of the military receives improper care at a military medical facility.
Currently, our nation’s soldiers have no legal right to such measures under a 1950 court ruling known as Feres v. United States. At the time, the Supreme Court ruled that medical malpractice is just another incidental risk of military service. The Feres Doctrine has been used ever since to shield incompetent and negligent military doctors and hospitals from accountability for their actions.
The senator isn’t alone in his opinion that things need to change. Legislation was also introduced to the House of Representatives regarding the issue this past April.
Proponents for the rights of military personnel understand that — amid the pressure of a battlefield or while located at a remote aid station — mistakes do happen in military care. They don’t seek to hold the military responsible for those kinds of mistakes. However, they want to see military hospitals cleansed of inept doctors and nurses so that there’s some assurance that our troops are truly getting the care that they deserve.
Medical malpractice is a complex area of the law that is constantly in flux. If you or your family member is injured due to the negligence of a doctor, hospital, clinic or nurse, the smartest thing you can do is seek more information about your rights and options.