When a health care worker’s failure to provide proper care leads to a serious injury or illness, you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, if you are in the military, you cannot take action against military doctors. But a bill introduced by federal lawmakers could change that.

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling has prevented service members from suing military doctors for medical malpractice since 1950. If the bill passes, it would change that doctrine to allow service members to hold military doctors responsible for improper care.

Feres v. United States

In the 1950 case, Feres v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that members of the military cannot sue the federal government for injuries sustained while on active duty. In addition to preventing personal injury lawsuits against the government, the ruling prevented service members from filing medical malpractice lawsuits against military doctors.

SFC Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act

Lawmakers named the new bill after an Army sergeant and Green Beret. The SFC Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019 hopes to amend the Feres doctrine to allow service members to sue for medical malpractice. The sergeant appealed to Congress after a military doctor failed to diagnose a tumor in the sergeant’s lung. Left untreated, the tumor developed into cancer.

Holding neglectful health care workers responsible

Medical malpractice lawsuits help patients recover money for medical bills related to poor or neglectful care. They are also a way for patients to hold doctors responsible for that poor care. Medical malpractice can lead to serious, sometimes permanent, injury or illness. By filing a lawsuit, patients can create a public record that proves a health care worker did not provide proper care.

However, if you are a service member, you cannot hold military health care workers to this same standard. This new bill hopes to give you the opportunity to hold military health care workers responsible for poor care.