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The Feres doctrine doesn’t make a death any less wrong

On Behalf of | Jul 24, 2016 | Firm News, wrongful death

Many things that were considered acceptable practice in the fifties have long since gone by the wayside. One such notion is a legal doctrine that stands as protection for the military and its government-run hospitals, medical professionals and staff. The Feres doctrine has become a source of frustration and injustice for military families who have suffered at the hands of their doctors.

Because of this, military families are bringing light to the situation and it appears the Feres doctrine may be in need of serious scrutiny and revision. Like many wrongful death pursuits, the battle may be uphill. However, the victory could mean hospitals and medical staff are held accountable and no longer operate under the radar of medical malpractice. And that could mean improved efforts and fewer incidents.

It’s a terrible reality that some medical professionals are not motivated to perform, considering the great responsibility that has been placed upon them: the life of another person. Instead, it seems the motivator is one of selfishness, when medical professionals stand to lose money or lose their license to practice or other reprimands for being negligent.

As it currently stands, the military hospitals and their staff cannot be sued for medical malpractice as any potential suits are protected by the presumption that they are “incidents to service.” But cases that have fallen under “incidents of service” have not just been men and women rushing into battle and being shot, or stepping on a landmine, nor have they been from getting in a helicopter wreck.

According to this report, “incidents of service” have included a woman not receiving necessary treatments and a blood transfusion and dying after delivering her child. Another incident was a 20-year-old man who went in for gallbladder surgery. During the process, his aorta was punctured and resulted in the need to amputate both his legs. Under Feres, these cases were either settled or dismissed.

While the other side of the argument is that the military does provide some form of compensation through the disability system in place to care for medical issues and injuries stemming from occupational incidents, a California attorney may be able to help you fight for what you deserve.

Source:, “Tragedy and injustice: The heartbreaking truth about military medical malpractice,” Patricia Kine, July 10, 2016