Washington Army Doctors Botch Diagnoses to Save Money

Imagine having finally been given a diagnosis for your symptoms by a doctor you trust, only to have that taken away by someone else.

That’s what happened to more than 300 Washington soldiers scarred by combat in Iraq or Afghanistan who exhibited symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sought treatment at Madigan Army Medical Center just south of Tacoma, according to The Seattle Times.

The soldiers had already been diagnosed with PTSD, but a team of forensic psychologists at Madigan accused them of malingering symptoms in order to get the lifelong benefits of an Army medical retirement. The psychologists reversed the diagnoses.

Some soldiers complained about the reversals earlier this year to Congress, and, after an Army investigation, the hospital changed its protocol for diagnosing PTSD. The soldiers whose diagnoses had been changed were able to get reevaluated.

Early Treatment is Key

PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder that can occur after seeing or experiencing traumatic events, according to the National Institutes of Health. Symptoms include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Repeated memories of the event, including nightmares
  • Strong reactions to situations that remind you of the event
  • Emotional “numbing,” or feeling detached
  • A limited memory of the trauma
  • Lack of interest in normal activities
  • Avoidance of people, places or thoughts that evoke memories of the event
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Easily startled or an exaggerated response when startled
  • Hypervigilance
  • Irritability or angry outbursts
  • Trouble sleeping

According to the National Institutes of Health, early diagnosis of PTSD can increase the chances of effective treatment.

The Army and PTSD

PTSD rates are higher among soldiers than the general public, particularly among those who have returned from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade. According to The Seattle Times, the Army has tried extensively to curb the stigma of seeking treatment for the illness through campaigns. But, even so, the suicide rate among the nation’s active-duty military personnel continues to increase, with 154 suicides in 2012 through June, according to the New York Times.

In order for a medical condition like PTSD to be treated, it must be diagnosed in a timely manner. This is the first step. Unfortunately, it is also one of the steps that it is most commonly missed by doctors. This is an all-too-common form of medical malpractice.

Even more egregious is when a doctor changes an accurate diagnosis for questionable reasons, denying the patient the care they need and, in this case, the care they deserve for their service to this country.

Contact Us

If you or someone you love had PTSD, cancer, heart attack or a stroke that was misdiagnosed, resulting in injury or suffering, you may be eligible for compensation. Please contact us immediately to speak with one of our experienced attorneys. We provide a free consultation during which we can discuss your legal options.