Wireless body sensor networks (WBSNs) for healthcare and medical applications are real-time and life-critical infrastructures, which require a strict guarantee of quality of service (QoS), in terms of latency, error rate and reliability. Considering the criticality of healthcare and medical applications, WBSNs need to fulfill users/applications and the corresponding network’s QoS requirements. For instance, for a real-time application to support on-time data delivery, a WBSN needs to guarantee a constrained delay at the network level. A network coding-based error recovery mechanism is an emerging mechanism that can be used in these systems to support QoS at very low energy, memory and hardware cost. However, in dynamic network environments and user requirements, the original non-adaptive version of network coding fails to support some of the network and user QoS requirements. This work explores the QoS requirements of WBSNs in both perspectives of QoS. Based on these requirements, this paper proposes an adaptive network coding-based, QoS-aware error recovery mechanism for WBSNs. It utilizes network-level and user-/application-level information to make it adaptive in both contexts. Thus, it provides improved QoS support adaptively in terms of reliability, energy efficiency and delay. Simulation results show the potential of the proposed mechanism in terms of adaptability, reliability, real-time data delivery and network lifetime compared to its counterparts.