In September 2019 our San Antonio medical malpractice attorney told you about new legislation that could allow servicemembers to sue for military medical malpractice. The SFC Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act amended decades-old laws that prohibited service members from filing a medical malpractice claim against a military or Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare provider or hospital.
The changing law gave hope to military families who have been harmed by medical negligence but have had no recourse. Unfortunately, new data suggests that many military medical malpractice claims are still unanswered with families still fighting for their voices to be heard.
Data Shows Military Medical Malpractice Claims Unanswered
For decades, military servicemembers were unable to file medical malpractice claims against military healthcare providers or hospitals based on the Feres Doctrine. Families found hope after the SFC Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act was heard and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was amended.
Unfortunately, the Department of Defense (DoD) seems to be unclear on how military medical malpractice claims will work. The DoD says that they are still working out the regulations and processes for these claims. The result is dozens of claims by dozens of military families being unanswered or, seemingly, ignored. Families say that the lack of attention to their claims is heartbreaking and frustrating.
These medical malpractice claims are not the result of merely an unfortunate medical outcome. Some cases represent clear negligence that cost even the lives of the victims. Take the Way case, for example. Jordan Way was in the Navy in 2017 when he required shoulder surgery. The surgery was done at a military hospital in California. Following the surgery, Jordan was prescribed “increasingly large doses of painkillers” despite the fact that his blood sugar was dropping.
In 2019, an investigation found that Jordan’s blood sugar was critically low, but he was still being prescribed opioids. He died shortly thereafter. The official cause of death was opioid toxicity. Despite filing a lawsuit after the SFC Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act went into effect, the Way family has made no progress in their fight for justice.
Families Left Frustrated by Unanswered Claims
An attorney representing the Way family is also representing dozens of others. According to Spotlight on America, one law firm has filed more than 60 military medical malpractice claims and 14 wrongful death claims on behalf of military servicemembers and their families. More than a year after the NDAA was amended, there has been no response from the military on any of these cases.
The DoD says,
“The Department is currently in the process of developing an interim final rule to implement the processing of claims, which allows Servicemembers to file medical malpractice claims under certain circumstances. The Department is currently receiving claims and these claims will be processed when procedures for reviewing the claims are established.”
This statement offers little hope or help for families struggling with loss. The DoD continues to contend that they are processing claims. However, they have not disclosed how many claims they have received or if any of them have been answered.
Families believe that the DoD is failing them and failing their loved ones who have died. Jordan Way’s mother says,
“To me, the frustration is watching the military and the DoD continue to get away with just pushing the marker out. We need more time, we need more time. How much time does it take to create a process that is already in the civilian world?”
Families and legal advocates hope that Congress will soon learn more about the significance of the military’s medical malpractice problem. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has ordered a report related to military healthcare be delivered by the beginning of 2021.
Do You Have a Military Medical Malpractice Claim?
If you are a servicemember in any branch of the military and you have been injured while under the care of a doctor or hospital, contact Brown, Christie & Green. Our San Antonio medical malpractice attorneys help victims and their families work through military and VA claims step-by-step.
The first step we will take is working with you to determine if you do have a medical malpractice case. Next, we will thoroughly investigate your claim and help you build a strong case. And finally, we will hold those responsible for your injuries accountable and pursue justice for you and your family.
Find out if you have an actionable medical malpractice claim by calling us at 1-800-600-4210. You can also contact us online to request a free consultation.