‘We Did the Impossible:’ Senate Passes Military Medical Malpractice Law

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. 

REFERENCES:

  1. https://www.fox46charlotte.com/news/we-did-the-impossible-senate-passes-military-medical-malpractice-law
  2. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/feres_doctrine

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Robert Duprey MD

Robert is a 2nd career physician (MD); a combat Veteran with the US Army; a former psychiatric nurse practitioner; an independent researcher; a medical writer; and now having passed USMLE Steps 1, 2CK, 2CS, and 3, is a residency applicant. 

  1 comment for “‘We Did the Impossible:’ Senate Passes Military Medical Malpractice Law

  1. Jesse L.Belville,PA-C
    January 8, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    That is very good. I got decent care during my military service but the US Army medical Corps almost killed my wife 3 times in 8 years. To get proper care we went off post to the civilian market for her seizure disorder, her migraine induced CVA and a simple Gallbladder surgery. The Im docs were convinced she was a “drinker” and delayed her surgery 3 weeks.she lost 20 plus pounds from 118 to 96 lbs and the surgeon was not sure she had enough body fat to heal properly. we filed several IG complaints. My daughter in active Air Force, had viral encephalitis in Hawaii,not uncommon,was misdiagnosed and sent home. she sort of got better care after I called the surgeon general of the US Army at 3am one morning. (ain’t the internet wonderful,amazing what you can find,LOL) and that finally got her some care but she was medically discharged with 30% plus disability. Might have had better outcome if she had been properly evaluated from ER and worked up. New DOCs not much experience,seeing things they have never seen before in a young Healthy population. Shit happens, and if you do not look for it you don’t find it.. Plus my recent experience at Malmstrum Air Force Base Family Practice clinic. Many patients I referred out to specialists because they had problems for Ortho, Podiatry, Rheymatology, Cardiology that had been ignored or not diagnosed,mis-diagnosed, plus neurosurgical problems that needed to be seen NOW.. 6 months in family Health clinic, a horrible EHR as a contractor I had to be DONE by 5pm and all charts done. That I did 14 to 18 per day plus walk ins. They cut the contract short and said nasty things about me too. However on their metrics I was 10 to 20 points above them after 3 months and for 7 weeks I could not be on the computer. No training on it by them and I still outperformed them.. What do you know. They are currently hacving an IG investigation with 67 or so IG complaints from civilian ,active duty and retirees.. They got problems.. They have Earned them.. To bad their patients suffer for their BS..
    Jesse L Belville,PA-C ( for 43 years plus)
    Major, US Army, Retired.

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