Federal Government Immune to Malpractice Claims

June 1, 2015 | Crandall & Pera Law
Federal Government Immune to Malpractice Claims

T.J. Moore was a 19-year-old recruit when he arrived at Lackland Air Force Base last year for basic training. Doctors pulled him from normal training after test results revealed a genetic condition that can lead to sudden death during physical exertion.

Just 9 days later, despite the test results, Moore was running a mile-and-a-half test when he collapsed at the finish line. He was rushed to the hospital, where efforts to save his life failed. His mother, Anita Holmes, said, “I raised T. J. as a single mother on little income for 19 years, and kept him safe. They had him for nine days and sent him home to me in a box.”

This past December, Anita received an official report on the death of her son after months of inquiries. The official Air Force explanation stated that the military followed proper procedure. The explanation admitted no mistakes and no fault.

Why service members have a more difficult time

Serious medical mistakes happen all the time, and sometimes getting an accurate version of what went wrong can be difficult, expensive, and time consuming. However, our active-duty service members can have an even more difficult time. According to the New York Times, they “are in a special bind, virtually powerless to hold accountable the health care system that treats them.”

Service members must use the military medical system; they are unable to seek outside treatment without specific permission. If a service member is hurt or killed during a medical procedure, there is no legal recourse. The Federal Government has immunity and damage caps from cases of malpractice. Because of this totalitarian power, there is no incentive to change a very badly flawed system.

Any errors made by military doctors are not reported to a national database, but are instead reported to an internal database, and then only if a patient is disabled or dies during treatment. Active-duty patients are stonewalled in their efforts to find out about suspected mistakes, and there is no law that allows these people their basic rights as a citizen.

Our military affords us a degree of freedom unmatched anywhere in the world. They keep our borders safe and provide law and order for an incredible number of people. However, our active-duty service members deserve the right to know when they have been wronged. We will continue to fight for that right and for all those who have been injured because of somebody else’s negligence.

If you have been a victim of negligence at the Cleveland VA Medical Center, the Lexington VA hospital or any of the military-supported medical centers in Ohio or Kentucky, please contact Crandall & Pera Law for a free consultation.