San Diego, California, is home to a major Naval base, so it’s important for people stationed there to understand that it’s now possible to bring medical malpractice cases against the military. After a 1950 Supreme Court decision, Feres v. United States, it was nearly impossible to do so. The change comes from a provision in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.
Military malpractice is a serious issue
One case gained national attention and motivated activists to seek changes to the Feres Doctrine. A Green Beret’s lung cancer was misdiagnosed as pneumonia. This caused delays in his care. Due to the delay, his cancer progressed to terminal status. Even a year after winning the right to file a claim, the Department of Defense hadn’t come up with a way to process such malpractice cases.
Service members still don’t have the same rights as civilians when it comes to filing malpractice lawsuits. The goal is for the Department of Defense to handle cases administratively and pay out claims based on a schedule created by the federal government. It’s hoped that the new system will lead to more care for soldiers.
Military medical facilities often perform riskier surgeries than most other medical institutions. Their surgeons are also less skilled than those who operate in private practice. Finding good trauma surgeons is a huge issue for the Armed Forces at present. It’s hoped that the new legislation will lead to the military emphasizing best practices among doctors and surgeons.
Taking advantage of the new law
If you or a loved one has been injured due to military medical malpractice, it’s important to contact an attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer may be able to help you pursue a claim and collect the damages you deserve.