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Military victims of medical malpractice may soon have rights

The decisions that your doctor makes and the actions that they take influence your health and well-being. If you are like most Americans, you deeply trust your doctor's expertise and expect them to competently diagnose you, properly treat you and adequately monitor your response to their care. Unfortunately, doctors do make mistakes, and when they do, patients are the ones who wind up paying the price.

For the average American, medical malpractice lawsuits are a way to recover some of the impact a doctor's mistake can have on your life. Sadly, not all patients have historically had the legal right to hold a physician accountable for malpractice. Failing to extend malpractice protections to military members and veterans receiving care from the government is arguably one of the most substantial failures our country has committed against its veterans.

In some VA hospitals, staff members have more charges than they can care for. Other times, surgeons or physicians make mistakes that have drastic, lasting consequences for their patients who are veterans or who are currently members of the armed services. Now, lawmakers have finally closed the loophole that has left military service members more vulnerable to medical misfortune.

The 2020 NDAA includes more than just funding for Space Force

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is the annual bill approving the military budget and tweaking the rules and regulations that apply to the military. The most recent NDAA, intended for 2020, included some unique and interesting provisions that have captured the imagination of the country.

The approval of funding for Space Force, a futuristic defense plan that looks to defend not just terrestrial America but its interests in the upper atmosphere and beyond, has drawn a lot of media attention. Unfortunately, the focus on Space Force means that fewer people are talking about the malpractice provision in the 2020 NDAA.

The New NDAA changes the long-standing Feres Doctrine

Since the 1950s, thanks to the so-called Feres Doctrine, military members could not seek any kind of compensation for medical malpractice or injuries that occurred during their service or while under the care of the VA. Now, the law will change to allow both military members who suffered grave injuries and surviving family members of military members who died because of medical malpractice to seek compensation from the government for their loss.

Military members deserve a higher standard of care, not fewer rights

Those who risk their lives and safety for the promotion of domestic peace and American interests abroad deserve the support of the community that they serve. When medical mistakes negatively impact the lives of service members or their families, they should have the same rights as civilians to seek compensation for the consequences of those mistakes. Now, thanks to the 2020 NDAA, that may finally be possible.

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