On Jan. 1, 2020, military history was made. An active duty member of the U.S. Army filed a medical malpractice claim against a military hospital and physicians who misdiagnosed his lung cancer as pneumonia.
While tragic, this act is a turning point for many in the military who may have such claims.
A 70-year-old system finally gets overhauled.
For more than 70 years, something known as the Feres Doctrine effectively prevented both active military personnel, retired military members and their family members from suing for malpractice when they were injured by negligent care – no matter how abysmal – in a military hospital.
The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law on Dec. 20, 2019, has changed that dynamic, with a provision named the Stayskal Act (after Richard Stayskal, the serviceman mentioned above). It brings new accountability to military hospitals and doctors, as military members can file personal injury claims over their own injuries and the injuries done to their dependents. Plus, wrongful death claims can now be brought on behalf of any deceased malpractice victims by their surviving family members.
This ushers in a new era of accountability in military hospitals that many say allowed doctors to get away with negligent patient care for far too long.
It’s important to note that some restrictions still remain, however. Service members who suffer medical malpractice injuries in combat zones cannot file a claim under the Stayskal Act. Plus, all claims will be handled administratively rather than in federal court.
If you’re the victim of military medical malpractice, learn more.
Understanding the new system isn’t easy, and it’s difficult to cope with a legal proceeding when you’re already suffering significant injuries or losses. Talk to an experienced legal advocate who really understands the military and its methods.