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Military members will likely be able to sue for malpractice

Although it hasn't attracted much national attention, a measure provision that is now awaiting the President's signature could allow, for the first time in decades, active duty military members in Texas and across the nation to sue military doctors for medical malpractice.

Decades ago, the Supreme Court held that those on active duty could not sue their military medical providers for malpractice, seemingly no matter how bad the providers' negligence was.

This new provision, which seems set to become law, was the effort of one former Special Forces soldier who is now in the final stages of lung cancer.

The man alleges that staff at the Army hospital he went to misdiagnosed his cancer as pneumonia, costing the man a valuable opportunity to treat the condition before treatment became out of reach. The Supreme Court's decision dashed any hope of his filing suit for negligence, so he and his attorney drafted and proposed a law to Congress which Congress ultimately passed.

Assuming the President signs it, the new law will allow military members who were allegedly victims of medical malpractice while on active duty to file claims. How much compensation the military will pay will depend on federal court data. A three-year statute of limitations will also apply under the new law.

One expert opined that the new law marks a return to a more reasonable approach of prohibiting suits for war-related accidents and injuries but allowing lawsuits for medical malpractice.

There have indeed been some flagrantly bad cases of medical malpractice for which, until the passage of this law, there was no financial accountability. Hopefully, this new law will help members of the military get the compensation they deserve if they are victims of medical malpractice.

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