“The Feres Doctrine leads to not only medical malpractice but also the abuse of power, mistreatment of survivors, lack of transparency and lack of accountability.”
-Alexis Witt, the widow of Air Force Sergeant Dean Witt
In 2003, Air Force Sgt. Dean Witt had a routine appendectomy at Travis Air Force Base. Tragically, after the procedure, Witt’s nurse administered a lethal dose of fentanyl and incorrectly inserted a breathing tube into his esophagus, depriving his brain of oxygen. Witt was left in a vegetative state for three months until his wife, Alexis, decided to have her husband’s feeding tube removed. The same nurse was linked to at least three other deaths, including the death of another airman just a year prior to Witt’s death.
In any other circumstance, Mrs. Witt would be able to hold accountable those whose negligence caused her husband’s death. However, because of a nearly 70-year-old Supreme Court decision that
prohibits active duty servicemembers from suing the government, including for medical malpractice, Mrs. Witt is left without recourse.