Parents do not expect to their sons or daughters to die before them. The norm is that parents raise children to adulthood and hopefully live to see the birth of the next generation. Wartime is an exception as sons and daughters go off to fight and sometimes die in battle. But a parent does not expect one serving in the military to die as a result of a fairly routine surgery. Such a situation occurred on a Maryland naval base and has led to a possible medical malpractice lawsuit.
A 23-year-old Naval corpsman had shoulder surgery in 2017. Shortly after waking up in recovery, he complained to his mother of being in excruciating pain. His mother summoned medical help. The surgeon did not respond but other medical personnel administered oxycodone, an opioid, and also gave the patient a morphine drip. The corpsman was found dead a few days later of an apparent opioid overdose.
The Feres Doctrine, based upon a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, bars members of the military from being able to bring medical malpractice lawsuits for health care injuries they may suffer that are related to their service. In this instance, the surgery was reportedly not connected to any injury related to military service. The Feres Doctrine does not distinguish between the two. Other similar cases have been successful on appeal and the corpsman’s mother is hoping to raise awareness and support for bipartisan legislation that would lead to legislative reform.
The loss of a child, even an adult child, is always tragic. When a person dies in a way that could possibly have been prevented it is all the more heartbreaking. A person in Maryland who has lost a loved one as a result of complications or other unexpected outcomes resulting from a medical procedure may wish to consult with a personal injury attorney regarding the feasibility of a medical malpractice lawsuit.