I see two sides to this metaphoric coin. I have mixed thoughts and feelings on the issue. On one side, for better accountability as the article professes. This is the good side of the coin:
“…will allow service members who have been victims of negligent medical care to finally be allowed to hold the government accountable. The measure allocates $400 million to the Dept. of Defense to investigate and pay out military medical malpractice claims internally. It will provide a measure of justice to service members and their families that has previously been denied.”
I believe that military medicine is of exceptional quality and serves the members well. However, it’s well known within the military community that military medicine has more than their fair share of bad players. I may be stereotyping, but I’ve seen firsthand a good many far too comfortable federal employees and active duty providers protected under the Feres Doctrine: A legal doctrine that prevents people who are injured as a result of military service from successfully suing the federal government under the Federal Tort Claims Act.” In other words, no accountability and no incentive to be and do good. The ‘can’t get fired’ mentality. Now maybe some of those notorious bad apples can be routed out. The article highlights the case of a long serving Soldier whose lung cancer was misdiagnosed as pneumonia, delaying treatment that could prolong his life. Sad but true these cases are out there. Now having a means by which to hold players accountable, hopefully these cases will become less and less.
One the other side of the coin is fear. Fear that this will lead to an onslaught of lawsuits in today’s litigious society with the military being no exception. Will this become a distraction from providing high quality health care and the military mission? What about monies now having to be spent defending lawsuits and paying out lawsuits that could be better served if it were applied to actual care costs? Will disgruntled service members use this as a means of retribution?
My hope is that the good side of the coin will prevail, but only time will tell.