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The military medical profession may soon be operating under a different set of parameters. The Richard Stayskal Bill has passed the House and it has been forwarded to the U.S. Senate. It is part of the National Defense Authorization Act, which is the annual Pentagon policy bill.
This bill, should it pass the Senate, will overturn the Feres Doctrine, a 1950 Supreme Court ruling that forbids active-duty military soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines from suing the federal government for medical malpractice and negligence.
The Feres Doctrine was initially put in place to protect military doctors who were treating combat casualties. Doctors in those positions have to make split-second decisions in order to save the lives of troops wounded in combat.
This newest legislation isn’t going to change that. Doctors treating soldiers wounded in combat and taking measures to save their lives will still be afforded that protection. But doctors who are treating troops for other medical conditions may soon be held accountable in a court of law where troops may be allowed to sue for medical malpractice.