Like anyone else, solders, airmen and sailors will from time to time get sick or injured and require medical care.
Indeed, even outside of an active combat zone, military work is quite dangerous, and it is common for servicemembers to need treatment after a job-related injury.
Members of the Armed Forces can avail themselves of the military hospitals and clinics scattered throughout the country. Normally, the military doctors and other medical staff there perform quality care and do their best to restore patients to health and active service.
New law offers a glimmer of hope to active duty victims of malpractice
Unfortunately, medical professionals make careless mistakes when treating servicemembers from time to time, just the same as their counterparts in the civilian world.
These errors can leave a servicemember who could have gotten better either permanently disabled or even dead.
Until this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, active duty service members were out of luck after suffering from malpractice at a military facility.
Due to an old doctrine called the Feres Doctrine, which originated out of a court case, only retirees and certain close family members, children and spouses, of servicemembers could file claims against the government for medical negligence. Strangely, active military personnel had no recourse.
The new law adds that servicemembers themselves may file claims against the federal government for acts of medical malpractice that happen at military hospitals and clinics, so long as the injury happens outside of a combat zone.
While this offers a glimmer of hope to victims, it is important to note that the law only allows the filing of administrative claims for malpractice.
These claims in turn get reviewed by departments within each military branch. If the department denies the claim, there is no option to file a lawsuit in court.
On the other hand, servicemembers now have some means of seeking compensation after suffering at the hands of negligent medical personnel who happen to work at military facilities.