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Military healthcare battlefield immunity

Kelly, J. C.


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Dr Janet Kelly
Senior Lecturer in Midwifery and Healthcare Law and Ethics


The combatant soldier on the battlefield remains protected from any claim in negligence by the doctrine of combat immunity for any negligent act or omission they may make when fighting. In other words, the combatant soldier does not owe a fellow soldier a duty of care on the battlefield, as the duty of care is non-justiciable. However, the non-combatant Military Healthcare Professional, although sometimes operating in the same hostile circumstances as the fighting soldier, is unlikely to benefit from combat immunity for any clinical negligence on the battlefield. This is because they continue to owe their patient a duty of care, although this has not been tested in the courts. This paper considers if any military healthcare professional could ever benefit from combat immunity, which is unlikely due to their non-combatant status. Instead, this paper suggests that a modified form of immunity; namely, Military Healthcare Battlefield Immunity could be a new, unique and viable doctrine, however, this could only be granted in rare circumstances and to a much lesser degree than combat immunity.


Kelly, J. C. (2012). Military healthcare battlefield immunity. Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps, 158(4), 308-312.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 1, 2012
Online Publication Date Dec 1, 2012
Publication Date 2012-12
Print ISSN 0035-8665
Electronic ISSN 2052-0468
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 158
Issue 4
Pages 308-312
Keywords General Medicine
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