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Birth Injury Lawsuits For Military Medical Malpractice Barred By Feres Doctrine

A 2007 horror story today recounted by the Virginian-Pilot explains a labor and delivery gone wrong at Langley Air Force Base. Cindy Wilson, a 37 year old sergeant, gave birth by cesarean section just before midnight at the 1st Fighter Wing Hospital; however, she never held the baby. During delivery, Cindy’s obstetrician erred by severing her uterine artery causing massive internal bleeding – which went unidentified. During frantic efforts to save Cindy’s life, two surgical sponges were left inside her abdomen. Twelve hours after giving birth, Cindy was pronounced dead.

In the months after the death, Cindy’s parents learned that they had virtually no recourse against the negligent doctors and hospital staff. An investigation was promised – and was conducted. However, the findings were shrouded in secrecy by Federal Law. Worse, Cindy’s husband and parents cannot sue the military under the Feres Doctrine.

The problem with the Feres Doctrine is that military doctors do not have to worry about lawsuits. In turn, there is nothing to discourage malpractice or substandard medical care. For example, gossypibomas (surgical sponges left inside a patient) are almost unheard of in the non-military medical community because special counting procedures have been devised. Not so in military operating rooms.

According to Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor, “the Feres Doctrine [is] . . . one of the most grotesque rules created in the history of this republic,” Turley said. “It has done untold damage to thousands of military personnel and their families.”

The comparison drawn between military and civilian medicine is relevant, as many civilian doctors blame medical malpractice lawsuits for rising malpractice insurance premiums and defensive medicine. However, it is clear that patients suffer where lawsuits are not available to ensure that doctors and other health care providers meet the standard of care.

The trial lawyers at Bottar Law, PLLC, have decades of experience investigating, prosecuting and trying to verdict all types of medical malpractice and hospital mistake cases, including those arising out of a failure to diagnose, birth injury, or surgical error. If you or a loved one have been injured, you and/or your family may be entitled to compensation for lifelong health care, special education, medical expenses, medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering.

To discuss your case or concerns with an experienced Central New York medical malpractice attorney, contact Bottar Law, PLLC now at (315) 422-3466, (800) 336-LAWS, or by e-mail at

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