How the New Military Medical Malpractice Law Became Part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

Since 2018, Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stayskal has been fighting to hold the military accountable for the military medical malpractice that resulted in the misdiagnosis of his terminal lung cancer. Making a 330-mile drive at least once a month, to Washington from Ft. Bragg, Sgt. Stayskal and his wife Megan met with members of Congress and testified in support of a change in the law to allow active-duty military members to bring claims for medical malpractice, according to NBC News. Inspired by Stayskal’s lobbying, a provision was added to the NDAA to allow service members to file claims against the military.

Rep. Jackie Speier of California, chair of the House Armed Services Committee’s Military Personnel Subcommittee, who helped Sgt. Stayskal with this effort has said this bill was passed in record time. “It typically takes 10 to 12 years for a measure like this, I cannot underscore enough how remarkable this achievement is. For a bill of this nature, of this complication, of this kind of a price tag, to get through in the matter of a year is nothing short of a miracle,” Speier said. 

Sgt. Skayskal’s lawyer, Natalie Khawam, from the Whistleblower Law Firm in Tampa, Florida, also contributed substantially to changing this law. Khawam said, “We were told that some people don’t support this, or it was not something we could achieve in a year, and we just continued to silence those comments and commit ourselves to the cause, in hopes of the right thing would occur.” Speaking about December 10th, when the team learned the proposed claims process had become part of the final NDAA bill, Khawam said, “It was glorious, yet very emotional, it’s been Christmas every day since then.”

When the NDAA passed the House on Dec. 11 and Senate on Dec. 17, Stayskal was at the Capitol to witness both votes.

How the New Military Medical Malpractice Law Affects Active-Duty Personnel

Active-duty personnel are now permitted to file military medical malpractice claims through an administrative claims process. Military veterans and retirees, and military family members have enjoyed the right to bring medical malpractice claims for negligence occurring at military facilities for decades, and they are permitted to do so through litigation. 

If you believe that you or a loved one may have a military medical malpractice lawsuit or administrative claim, contact our attorneys for a free, no-obligation consultation.