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When active duty military personnel are severely injured or killed in the course of non combat related medical care, they and/or their families have no recourse. ( U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1950 that the government is not liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act for injuries to active duty military personnel that result from the negligence of military doctors. It shields the government and military medical personnel from any accountability for harm done to active duty military personnel – no matter how gross the malpractice might be – including death.

The Supreme Court's decision to bar suits against the federal government by military personnel and their families for injuries arising from medical care incident to military service became known as the Feres doctrine. ( Additionally, the courts have included any claims involving the use of military medical facilities by active duty servicemembers as "incident to service." This denies them and their families a remedy for medical malpractice that every civilian, illegal immigrant, and incarcerated criminal is privy to. (
Perhaps the original intent of the Feres doctrine was to protect the heroic actions by doctors and other medical personnel during times of combat. However, the Feres doctrine is being used to provide a safe haven from accountability for even the most reckless malpractice – including that which occurs far away from the battlefield and under ideal conditions. This doctrine encourages substandard medical care for our servicemembers and protects incompetent military medical personnel from accountability - both during and after their military service. (
In October 1997, incompetent doctors associated with military medicine were reported to be an important issue and one that the Pentagon promised to address ( However, eight years later the prescription for and administration of a contraindicated medication (a DEA Schedule II narcotic with an analgesic potency of about 80-100 times that of morphine and 100s of times that of heroin) resulted in the death of a soldier who trusted the military to competently care for him. The attending physician Dr. Robert Tibesar was promoted two months after the death, received his board certification a year later, and continued to practice medicine at the same military medical facility until approximately May/June 2008. Dr. Tibesar currently serves as an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota and practices at Pediatric ENT Associates in the Children's Specialty Center at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota. ( To make matters worse, the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice refuses to discipline the doctor for his reckless behavior. (Minnesota Board of Medical Practice)


MSG Harold W.(Bud)Kinamon, Jr.
Killed 22 October 2005 


Not on a battlefield

by a foreign enemy


in a military hospital

by a U.S. military doctor. 

Even when laws have been written down, they ought not always to remain unaltered.