Have you ever wondered if you can sue the Army, Navy or other branches for malpractice?
Medical malpractice is the 3rd leading cause of death in the USA, where over 250,000 people die from medical malpractice each year.
Now these stats aren’t meant to scare you but to show you that medical malpractice is more common than you might think. If you’ve been injured because of military medical malpractice, then know that there’s something you can do about it!
Luckily, a law signed into place on Dec. 20, 2019, lets you file claims for personal injuries or wrongful death that occurs because of medical malpractice. We’ll touch on this more in the next section.
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What’s The Feres Doctrine?
All the way back in 1950 the United States Government passed a law known as the Feres Doctrine. The purpose of this law was to protect the government from active duty service members suing for malpractice, negligence, or sexual harassment. For 70 long years, servicemen and women were needlessly suffering.
Though the effects of this law haven’t been completely demolished, thanks to the SFC Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019, there is progress. Now active duty members can seek compensation for medical malpractice or negligence. No, it’s not the same as suing, but it’s a step in the right direction.
This provision paves a path towards accountability within the military healthcare system. Something the military desperately needs
What’s The Stayskal Act?
Sgt. First Class Richard Stayskal is a hero. Not only is he a devout husband, dedicated father, and war hero — he’s also bravely fighting stage 4 lung cancer. Now, it would be more than fair for Stayskal to sit back and enjoy every precious moment with his family. But that’s not all that he’s doing! Follow along as we explain.
Sgt. Stayskal is the victim of military medical malpractice. In January 2017, Stayskal visited Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina for breathing issues. After performing a CT scan military doctors told him it was either pneumonia or asthma. But the issues didn’t stop. Stayskal ended up in the emergency room four months later because of dizziness, wheezing, and chest pain.
According to medical records, a military doctor realized that the January CT scan actually showed a mass near his lungs. On paper, the doctor recommended a biopsy but never verbally communicated the finding to the patient. Instead, Stayskal was sent home with a pneumonia diagnosis once again.
Unfortunately, Stayskal started coughing up blood that summer. He saw a civilian specialist and got a diagnosis of stage 3 lung cancer in the summer of 2017. It later progressed to stage 4.
Because of his story, Congresswoman Jackie Speier sought to make an exception to the Feres Doctrine. A change that would allow service members, as well as their dependents, to file malpractice suits against negligent military health care providers. Congress approved the revision and added this act to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020.
So What Exactly Is Military Medical Malpractice?
We’re glad you asked! Without knowledge, you won’t know how to fight back against it. Medical malpractice is when a medical professional causes injury, damages, or even death to a patient because of their negligent actions.
It doesn’t matter whether the malpractice occurs in a military hospital or a civilian hospital. Either way, it shouldn’t happen and there should be consequences! Here, to better explain, we’ll give you a list of some of the most common mistakes to watch out for:
• Treatment Delays
• Anesthesia Problems
• Diagnosis Delay
• Negligence in Surgery
There are just a few examples. If you think your injury might be malpractice but isn’t listed, you should still contact a military medical malpractice lawyer right away. Here at Hampton & King, we offer free consultations so you have nothing to worry about.
Why Does Military Malpractice Happen?
Well, that’s a loaded question. Military medical malpractice can happen for a variety of reasons. At the end of the day, we’re all human and humans make mistakes. But there certainly are factors that can contribute.
Let’s discuss one of the big ones: burnout. Burnout occurs when medical professionals lose enthusiasm and satisfaction with their work. In its place, medical practitioners become exhausted, detached, and cynical about their profession.
This phenomenon is becoming widespread in the medical field. The 2019 National Physicians Burnout & Depression Report revealed that four in ten doctors experience burnout. Nurses aren’t immune to the syndrome either. A study discovered that nursing burnout can also result in harmful mistakes for patients.
Something must be done to stem this alarming tide. Or else our military hospitals will be overrun with stressed nurses and doctors prone to medical errors.
Causes Of Burnout Among Military Doctors & Nurses
There are a multitude of factors that cause burnout, both in the workplace and outside of it. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes that negatively impact medical professionals:
Military doctors grapple with despair, disease, human suffering, and death. They have an endless list of patients relying on them for a cure. Also, they have to support the families of patients during their loved one’s healing process. What’s more, doctors are expected to comfort bereaved families of patients they’ve lost.
These varied roles need doctors to be comforter, cheerleader, and sympathizer. A task that is emotionally draining for them. And when this happens every day, is there any wonder why burnout is so prevalent among doctors? Nurses experience it too! Compassion fatigue is very problem.
Culture of the profession
We often see doctors as stoic, steady, and calm even in harrowing situations. And this is on purpose. Medical school teaches doctors to never reveal vulnerability. They are told to self-sacrifice and produce high performance.
This training is then joined with the military’s culture of silence. And it leads to a race of super doctors that have learnt to keep mum about their issues. But there is a limit to how much one can take and our super doctors are no different.
Inappropriate work-life balance
Maybe society’s perception of doctors is wrong. Many people think doctors should always be available whenever we need them. With long exhausting hours, and nights spent on call, do they really have time for a social life?
Medical professionals often feel the same way. Too often they take their work problems home, focusing on their job to the detriment of their personal life. Soon enough, they experience depression, stress, apathy, and irregular sleep patterns. If nothing is done, burnout becomes the next stop.
Story Of Military Medical Malpractice
Are the brave men and women of our military subject to poor healthcare? It’s an important question and one that’s even made headlines over the last several years.
In this post we’ll take a closer look at the woes of military healthcare and what you should do if you’re a victim. To start, we’ll discuss the story of Sgt. Carmelo Rodriguez. A brave young man who wasn’t able to win his fight against cancer.
Here’s his story:
it was Rodriguez’s greatest desire to fight for his country. So in 1997 took the leap and enlisted in the United States military.
But before admission, he would first need to go through a series of standard medical assessments. It was during one of these health screenings that a doctor noticed a melanoma. Now the normal procedure is to inform the patient and start treatment, right?
Unfortunately for Rodriguez, he wasn’t even given a diagnosis. He’d instead spend the next several years completely oblivious to the cancerous spot. It wasn’t until he went to Iraq that Rodriguez began noticing major changes to his body. By this time the “abnormal” wart had become several sizes bigger and was emitting puss. He sought treatment but military doctors told him to wait 5 months until his return to the States.
In 2008, Rodriguez died from stage 4 melanoma at the age of twenty-nine. As sad as Rodriguez’s story is, it has become all too common in military healthcare.
Why wasn’t Rodriguez given a proper diagnosis? Why did they have him wait 5 long months? In 2008 the Stayskal Act wasn’t around so there was nothing his family could do to seek justice. In the next section we’ll discuss HOW YOU CAN FIGHT BACK.
How To File A Claim Against The Government
Before now, taking action against the military for medical malpractice wasn’t much of an option. Even if you could manage to get to court, you had a higher chance of capturing Bigfoot than winning your case. And this was because of the Feres doctrine.
Fortunately, new legislation has opened the way for service members to file a claim against the military and seek compensation. No, it’s not the same as suing but it’s still a massive step in the right direction!
And we’re going to show you how to do it, in 3 simple steps.
Step 1: Gather your evidence
Pursuing a claim isn’t a decision to make on a whim or after watching reruns of Judge Judy. First, you will be going up against an institution that deals only in facts and evidence. So you want to be extra prepared and ensure your case is airtight.
Your evidence kit should consist of:
• Record of a doctor-patient relationship
• Record of the actions taken by your doctor
• Accounts from other medical professionals on the actions your doctor should have taken instead
• Proof that you were injured or harmed as a result of the doctor’s actions and not because of any underlying medical condition
• Proof of financial damages such as loss of earnings, rehabilitation expenses, medical expenses, caregiver expenses etc
Step 2: File an official malpractice claim
After you gather all evidence, your next action should be placing the military on notice. And the way to do this is to file an administrative claim against the military branch that oversaw the malpractice. And don’t worry, you won’t have to file the claim yourself. You will need the services of a lawyer, preferably one experienced with military medical malpractice cases, to file for you.
When meeting with your lawyer, bring the evidence you dug up. Your lawyer will look through the information to determine what your chances will be when the case gets to court. And if your case is strong enough, he/she will file a claim against the military branch.
Step 3: Wait for the DoD’s response
At this point, we must congratulate you as the first hurdle is finally over. All you have to do now is wait! When the Department of Defense receives your claim, they’ll investigate your proof to be sure they are true. In essence, expect to get a reply in six months.
When the DoD does respond, you should get one of these outcomes:
• Accept partial liability for the injury.
• Completely reject the claim.
• Accept full liability.
Now before we continue here’s a quick disclaimer. Filing a federal lawsuit is only for civilians. Those in the military are only permitted to file an administrative claim. And also, a lot of people unintentionally miss the deadline.
So, even if you don’t think you have a case, it’s still important to talk to an attorney right away. If you miss the deadline, you’re just plain out of luck. Your attorney will ensure that you don’t miss any vital deadlines and that your paperwork is in order, free of mistakes.
You Deserve The Best Military Malpractice Attorney
Are you the victim of military malpractice? Are you struggling every day with serious injuries that leave you feeling weak and in pain?
This year for the first time ever, military members can file an administrative claim for medical malpractice. Let’s face it: you don’t want to go after the country that you spent months or years defending. But this is about you and what you’re worth.
Again, you have two years to file your case. Once your claim becomes processed and agreed upon, it’s up to you to find a malpractice attorney. But where do you start? Let’s discuss the most important things to keep in mind when selecting your military malpractice attorney.
Cost: Don’t Pay Anything Upfront
Start your search with this in mind: you don’t have to pay an attorney anything upfront. Nothing. Zip. Nada.
Any prospective attorney should offer you a free consultation first. The only money you pay the attorney is if you win the case. Your attorney will then get paid a percentage of the settlement that you win. Walk away and find a new attorney if they are vague about money owed or try to get money out of you before you win the case. A great attorney should be very specific about all financial fees included in your case.
Experience: Know Their Work
You deserve the best. Finding a malpractice attorney with years of experience is what you need. You don’t want an attorney fresh out of Law School. You need an attorney who’s built their career on winning medical malpractice cases. You need an attorney who fights for you.
The internet is your friend here. Search for a malpractice attorney who has years of experience. Who has battled many military malpractice cases in their career. Check if they have worked for a veteran or active duty service member who has filed a similar claim. This will reveal that they respect veterans and will go to bat for you too. At your free consultation ask them questions like:
· How many cases have you won?
· How long have you specialized in medical malpractice?
· Have you ever worked a military medical malpractice case?
· Why are you passionate about military medical malpractice law?
Trust: Get Someone Reliable
No relationship can last without trust. During your free consultation, did the attorney treat you and your words with respect? Did it feel as though they listened to you? Were all your questions answered? After your free consultation, did the attorney give you a feeling of trust? Do some digging into their past clients and look up reviews. Understand if the attorney can be:
· Ever asked for money
· Has the right experience
· Are always professional
· Trusted with private information
If the attorney checks off all these boxes, congratulations! They are the right military medical malpractice lawyer for you.
Personality: Who Are They?
Not all attorneys are the same. Before contacting an attorney, you must find out more about them. Will they be the right fit for your case? Look up potential attorneys on Facebook. What does their personal information tell you? Do they respect the military? Recruit your family and friends to help you in your search. If they are a good fit, considering their past cases. Does this attorney:
· Work to protect their client’s best interests
· Follow-up quickly and appropriately
· Arrive on time and is well-prepared
· Doesn’t do anything to cause a scene or embarrassment
A military malpractice attorney should displace a passion to protect you and your interests. They must dedicate themselves to finding the best solution.
What is a Contingency Lawyer and Why You Need One
You’ll want to fight your military medical malpractice case with a contingency lawyer on your side. A contingency lawyer is one who works for a fixed percentage only on the contingency that your case is won. You know those commercials you’re always seeing late-night that claim: “We don’t get paid unless you do?” They’re actually telling the truth.
A contingency lawyer is great because:
– No out-of-pocket fees for you. The fee comes directly out of the settlement.
– No win? No fees. If your case doesn’t win, there’s absolutely no expense to you.
– Levels out the playing field. It can be difficult to afford a great lawyer sometimes. Your attorney may only be representing you for the fees. He/she doesn’t believe in your case. That means you’ll be fighting an upward battle you’ll likely lose.
– Capped at twenty percent, by law. If you win your case, you’ll be sure to keep the majority of the money in your pocket.
So what do you have to lose?
Contact a Military Medical Malpractice Lawyer at Hampton & King
It can feel helpless finding a great medical malpractice attorney in a sea of unknown faces. You need someone dependable, trustworthy and experienced fighting the good fight for you. Hampton & King has the attorneys with experience and trust you can rely on.
Military members suffering from medical malpractice have more rights now than ever before. If you or a loved one has suffered from military medical malpractice, please reach out before it’s too late. Contact Hampton & King Attorneys At Law today with any questions. We’ll assess your case and determine what legal rights and options you have.
Contact Hampton & King at 713-489-0993 or click here.