Military’s Medical Malpractice Shield Law Could Face Key Test

From Insurance Journal comes an interesting article about a law that shields military medical personnel from malpractice lawsuits.  Directly from the article:

The U.S. Supreme Court has asked for more information from attorneys and will decide next month whether to hear the case of a 25-year-old non-commissioned officer who died after a nurse put a tube down the wrong part of his throat.

If the law is overturned, it could expose the federal government to billions of dollars in liability claims. That makes it highly unlikely a divided Congress desperate to cut expenses will act on its own to change what’s called the Feres Doctrine, a 1950 Supreme Court ruling that effectively equates injuries from medical mistakes with battlefield wounds.

The court case involves the death of Air Force Staff Sgt. Dean Patrick Witt, who was hospitalized in 2003 for what should have been a routine appendectomy at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif. Following surgery, a nurse anesthetist inserted a breathing tube into his esophagus instead of his trachea or airway, depriving his brain of oxygen. Witt, of Oroville, Calif., died once his family removed him from life support three months later.

The nurse admitted her mistake and surrendered her state license. Federal courts denied the legal claim by Witt’s widow, saying their hands were tied by the Feres Doctrine. Witt’s family appealed, aiming to help other service members who get hurt in military hospitals.

Read the full story here on the Insurance Journal website.

This entry was posted in Med PL, PL Insurance and tagged , , by plushq. Bookmark the permalink.

About plushq

The Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS) was founded in 1986 by industry professionals who recognized the need for a forum for individuals involved in the field of professional liability. The Society is a non-profit organization with membership open to persons interested in the promotion and development of the professional liability industry. Membership consists of over 6,500 individuals, representing over 1,000 companies active in the many fields of professional liability. PLUS currently receives the support of more than 200 companies through corporate membership. PLUS is recognized as the primary source of professional liability educational programs and seminars, assistance to its members to help serve clients, and information regarding professional liability. The Society is continually seeking new means to fulfill its mission statement and better serve its members.

Leave a Reply