Victims of military medical mistakes will appear before the House Armed Services Committee next week to testify that Congress should change laws preventing malpractice cases against the Defense Department, Military Times reported.
The April 30 hearing will focus on a 1950 Supreme Court ruling referred to as the Feres doctrine that lower courts have repeatedly cited in blocking military members from malpractice damages for medical mistakes related to their service.
Witnesses will include the widow of Air Force Staff Sgt. Patrick Witt, who entered a vegetative state after a botched appendectomy surgery, and Sgt. 1st Class Richard Staykal, a Green Beret fighting stage 4 cancer due to Army doctor errors.
Staykal’s attorney has said the 37-year-old father of two is in daily pain but will testify to “show that there needs to be accountability for these doctors.”
Critics of the military malpractice doctrine claim it has been applied well beyond war-inflicted injuries, depriving military families compensation for other service-related medical damages.
Supporters of the doctrine have challenged that changing the malpractice rules would prompt frivolous lawsuits.
Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sean Galbreath