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A Civil Rights Crisis: Active Duty Members Can’t Sue the Military for Medical Malpractice

August 14, 2016

A Civil Rights Crisis: Active Duty Members Can’t Sue the Military for Medical Malpractice

Active duty personnel should be allowed to sue for medical malpractice at military hospitals.

Active duty personnel should be allowed to sue for medical malpractice at military hospitals.

When 33-year-old Navy Lieutenant Rebekah Moani Daniel died due to improperly handled bleeding shortly after giving birth at Naval Hospital Bremerton, her devastated family ran up against a little recognized civil rights crisis. While a case of negligence like Lt. Daniel’s would typically result in a wrongful death lawsuit in a civilian hospital, her status as an active duty member of the military meant that her family could not sue the doctors responsible for her death.

Lt. Daniel’s family is bound by a rule known as the Feres doctrine that groups this tragic case with incidents such as injury or death while in battle. While Feres was enacted to justifiably prevent active duty soldiers from to suing the military for death during battle, Lt. Daniel died in a medical setting far from the battle field during an otherwise normal birth. Still, because of the Feres doctrine, military medical professionals are immune from being held responsible in the same way as a civilian doctor when an active duty service member is the injured party (NOTE: unlike their active duty family members, military dependents DO have the right to sue the military for medical malpractice if the dependent is the injured party).

Melissa Thompson, a freelance producer for USA Today, recently wrote this about the subject:

“While we typically think of our military members as among our most honored citizens, the reality of military medical malpractice is that the Feres doctrine actively strips service members of their civil rights. This is what legal ethicist and attorney Richard Custin claims about the cases, and calls it a form of discrimination against our military. How do we justify repeated deaths, unnecessary amputations, and other devastating medical scenarios in our military hospitals?

Who is protected by the Feres doctrine then? Only negligent doctors who fail to uphold the Hippocratic Oath and their obligation to first, do no harm. Our military members face long odds on the battlefield, putting their lives at risk for our safety. Hospitals, then, should be a safe haven where they can be treated with the utmost care.

What these military medical malpractice cases reveal, however, is the opposite.

Our military members deserve better.”

http://newsblaze.com/business/legal/military-medical-malpractice-how-our-servicemen-are-betrayed   August 12, 2016

 

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