Generals l in the Marine Corps salutes while wearing their uniforms.

Each day, the brave men and women of our armed forces suit up to protect our freedom. A job that deserves a special kind of gratitude and respect. We’d like to believe that we’ve come a long way in taking care of our heroes and in many ways we have…

But the truth is, in a place where everyone should feel safe, our military has in a lot of ways been disregarded. We’re talking about the care they receive at military hospitals and facilities.

While the typical civilian hospital treats the most sick and weak of the population, military base hospitals treat the most healthy. Military surgeons in non-combat zones often lack the necessary skills to save lives because they perform surgery enough. This is a problem. Follow along, as we explain why this is happening and what you can do if you’re a victim.

Military Healthcare – A Broken System?

Most service members are in the prime of their lives and in peak physical condition, but this leaves military surgeons with little experience, a terrifying prospect for a potential patient.  According to U.S. News,

“While civilian surgeons may perform as many as 500 operations every year, military surgeons usually perform under 100.”

That’s less than 20% of their civilian counterparts. What happens when our soldiers are on the operating table? Also, let’s not forget that due to healthcare coverage, military families are often treated at a military hospital as well. Did you know that military babies are twice as likely to experience a birth injury? Surely, our heroes and their families deserve the same level of care and odds of survival as civilians do.

The military healthcare system is in need of repair.

A room full of hospitals beds is empty without any patients.

A Tale Of Military Medical Malpractice

So we know the level of care is an issue, but so is transparency. In many of the stories you hear, negligence within the military was never disclosed. That was the case for Private Ashley Shelton.

Pvt. Shelton was deployed to Afghanistan after being told that the 5 pregnancy tests that showed positive for pregnancy were due to false positives. Dr. Jonathan Richard Coyle, who was in charge of pre-deployment screening told Shelton the false-positives were because of mice exposure.

After working 3 months in a combat zone and exposed to harmful chemicals, Shelton gave birth to her son, Benjamin, on August 15th, 2012, without even knowing she was pregnant.

While in the womb, Benjamin was exposed to anthrax and other vaccinations that were required for Pvt. Shelton to be deployed, and received no prenatal care. Benjamin suffers from congenital birth defects. The U.S. Army has yet to recognize the mistake that led to a soldier giving birth in a combat zone in Afghanistan. Pvt. Shelton and Benjamin received no compensation from the government for this malpractice.

What Is Medical Malpractice & Negligence?

Whether a patient is in the military or not shouldn’t matter when they step foot in a medical facility. Every patient deserves quality care, and the standards should be the same. In case you’re wondering if your situation was the result of malpractice or negligence, let’s first discuss what the two terms mean.

These are the most common types of medical malpractice and negligence:

► Failure to diagnose – This is when a doctor misses your diagnosis or even incorrectly diagnoses you with a different condition.

► Incorrect treatment – If a competent doctor would have taken a different treatment path, that could be malpractice. This also includes a doctor choosing the right treatment, but then administering it incorrectly.

► Failure to warn a patient of the risks – Every patient should know the possible risks associated with a procedure or medication so they can make an informed decision.

► Medical errors – This may include medication mistakes, or surgical mishaps, among other errors.

The distinction between malpractice and negligence may seem slight, but in general it all boils down to intent. If your doctor unknowingly makes a mistake that’s often negligence. But if your doctor makes a choice and is aware of possible consequences, that’s considered malpractice.

A little girl spins around in circles while holding an American flag.

A Change To The Feres Doctrine

Until a recent revision to the “Feres Doctrine,” service members were unable to sue the government for military medical care malpractice altogether. For 70 years, a mistake could occur and it be swept under the rug.  Because of this hard fought for amendment, service members can now seek compensation for damages, and regain their voice.

If you or a loved one has been injured by medical malpractice or negligence in a non-combat military facility, now is the time to act. Some cases may be retroactive to 2018. We are eager to help you seek the justice you deserve.