Recent comments uncovered by Army investigation reveal possible high-level medical fraud being committed against active duty military personnel. To prevent fair disability ratings for servicemembers with PTSD, Army psychologists have been “cooking the books.” During a PTSD conference at Madigan, an unnamed psychiatrist warned participants the Medical Review Board must be on the lookout for taxpayers when diagnosing PTSD. He expressed concern that military members suffering from PTSD and receiving disability would bankrupt the Army and the Department of Veterans Affairs. For that reason, the psychiatrist said he would not follow standard operating procedure, which he equated to “rubber stamping,” in assigning PTSD ratings. Dr. William Keppler and another Army doctor have been suspended from clinical duties while the Army investigation unfolds. Madigan falls under the Western Regional Medical Commend (WRMC). The WRMC issued the following statement regarding its investigation into the matter:
The U.S. Army Medical Command and the Western Regional Medical Command are taking this issue very seriously, and have initiated investigations to look into the concerns outlined in the Memorandum For Record. We are very sensitive to the issues that have been raised and are working hard to address them. Soldiers expect and deserve the best possible care with compassion, and our priority is to make sure that all Soldiers are getting a fair clinical assessment and diagnosis in the Disability Evaluation System (DES) process. However, while the investigation is being conducted, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further on the details of any inquiry until it is completed.
When taken at face value, the psychiatrist’s statements mean many veterans who were diagnosed at Madigan were likely not awarded their diagnosis properly. This misdiagnosis is the result of a failure for the medical professional to follow the law and their ethics codes. This failure is the result of the professional believing they had a duty to the taxpayer rather than a duty to their patient. Any civilian medical professional guilty of misdiagnosing a client on purpose could be guilty of medical malpractice. Further, by submitting knowingly false statements to the government in the form of a disability compensation evaluation is fraud. Here is the minimal requirement for fraud:
Black’s law dictionary defines constructive fraud as “all acts, omissions, and concealments involving breach of equitable or legal duty, trust or confidence, and resulting in damage to another, 38 Cal Rptr. 148, 157; i.e. no scienter (knowledge) is required. Thus the party who makes the misrepresentation need not know that it is false.’ (USLegal.com).
Here, we know within a reasonable amount of inference that at least the doctors in question knew they were misdiagnosing servicemembers. The veterans who were misdiagnosed have damaged in the form of lower disability ratings and the doctors in question must be prosecuted. The Army has a duty to notify all former and current servicemembers possibly affected that their exams were possibly tainted. My question is, where did this idea come from, that a psychiatrist has a higher duty to whoever pays the bill rather than the patient. I doubt highly that it came from the American Medical Association or the American Psychological Association. Sounds to me like it came from someone within the DOD or the executive. At this point, the Army is tight lipped on the matter. However, Senator Patty Murry, Chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, is closely following the matter. We will report back as the investigation unfolds. Update: According to the Seattle Times, “the Army Medical Command has a hotline available for soldiers and veterans who have been screened by forensic psychiatric teams since 2007 as part of the evaluation process for medical retirement. Soldiers and veterans with concerns about their diagnosis may call 800-984-8523.”