WASHINGTON - The Army inspector general is conducting a systemwide review of mental-health facilities to determine whether psychiatrists overturned diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder to save money. The move comes as the case of a U.S. soldier suspected of killing 16 Afghan civilians has brought fresh attention to the strains of war.
Army Secretary John McHugh told Congress on Wednesday that the Army was trying to determine whether the change in diagnosis was isolated or a common practice. Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.), who pressed McHugh at a committee hearing, said the forensic psychiatry unit at Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord was being investigated for reversing diagnoses based on the expense of providing care and benefits to members of the military.
"Not only is it damaging for our soldiers, but it also really furthers the stigma for others that are - whether they're deciding to seek help or not today," Murray said.
Since 2007, more than 40 percent of the cases involving candidates for retirement had been overturned, according to statistics cited by Murray. Of the 1,680 patients screened at Madigan, more than 690 had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. The psychiatric team reversed more than 290 of those diagnoses.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Army reviews its practices in mental health