Maryland Court Discusses Liability for Negligent Care in Military Hospitals

People who served in the military are eligible to receive medical care at military hospitals. Military hospitals differ from non-government institutions in numerous ways. For example, establishing liability for medical malpractice for harm caused by incompetent care in a military hospital requires different proof than in cases involving non-government hospitals. Further, even if a patient can establish that they suffered injuries at the hand of a government doctor, their claim may be denied, as demonstrated in a recent Maryland opinion. If you suffered harm due to treatment you received at a military facility, you have the right to pursue damages, and it is in your best interest to talk to a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff was a member of the Maryland Air National Guard. During basic training in 2010, he suffered injuries when he fell from a pull-up bar. He experienced ongoing issues since the fall, including neck pain, numbness and tingling in his fingers, and difficulty with fine motor skills.

It is alleged that the plaintiff subsequently underwent surgery on his cervical spine at a military hospital. Following the surgery, he lost the use of his limbs. He instituted a lawsuit against the federal government pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), asserting claims of lack of informed consent and medical malpractice. The defendant moved for dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims via summary judgment, arguing that under the Feres doctrine, it could not be liable for the plaintiff’s harm.

Liability for Negligent Care in Military Hospitals

While the court acknowledged that the plaintiff suffered devastating losses due to the surgery, it nonetheless granted the defendant’s motion and dismissed the plaintiff’s claims. The court explained that while the FTCA waived the sovereign immunity of the federal government for injuries caused by the negligence of its employees, the Feres doctrine provides an exception to the waiver of immunity.

Specifically, the Feres doctrine bars FTCA claims for injuries to service people that arise out of or occur in the course of activities that are incident to service. The court elaborated that case law clearly established that the Feres doctrine barred medical malpractice claims if the claims arose out of treatment for injuries sustained while the injured party was actively involved in service. As in the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff’s injury ultimately stemmed from his service in the military; it ruled the Feres doctrine applied and granted the defendant’s motion.

Speak to a Capable Maryland Attorney

Veterans often seek treatment from military medical facilities, but unfortunately, in some instances, the care they receive not only fails to address their concerns but also causes them harm. If you were hurt due to the negligence of a doctor working in a military hospital, you might be able to recover damages in a medical malpractice claim, and you should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. The capable Maryland attorneys of Arfaa Law Group are proficient at holding reckless physicians accountable for the damages they cause, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach us via our online form or by calling us at (410) 889-1850 to set up a meeting.

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