Following complaints, Army medical records board honoring latest Madigan PTSD diagnoses

Staff writerNovember 25, 2013 

The Army has begun correcting medical records for former Madigan Army Medical Center patients who left the military with conflicting diagnoses for behavioral health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Jeanie Chang, 30, of Tenino learned last week that the Army Review Board for Correction of Medical Records would change her file to reflect the PTSD diagnosis she received at Madigan last year.

Previously, the review board rejected her PTSD diagnosis and refused to correct her records, a decision that cost her disability benefits and left her with a sense that military doctors were misusing her conversations with them.

Chang was among some 400 former Madigan patients who were called back to the hospital last year amid concerns that the hospital’s forensic psychiatry team was under-diagnosing PTSD to save the Army money in long-term disability benefits. Of those, 158 patients left the review with PTSD diagnoses.

About 20 of them have had trouble persuading the medical records board to honor their newer diagnoses. Instead, the medical records board favored the forensic psychiatry reports that were at the center of the hospital’s PTSD controversy.

Chang and another soldier shared their frustrations with The News Tribune for stories in August and November. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., pressed their cases with senior Army leaders.

Assistant Secretary of the Army Karl Schneider this month wrote a memo ordering the medical records board to ignore the forensic psychiatry diagnoses.

After the order came down, Chang learned the medical records board would recognize her PTSD diagnosis and award her disability benefits for the next six months.

Chang left the Army in 2011 as a sergeant. She was a sexual assault victim during her time in uniform. She now works as a civilian employee at Lewis-McChord.

 

Madigan no longer uses a robust forensic psychiatry team in its medical retirement process, though a subsequent Army investigation found its doctors were doing their jobs to the best of their abilities. The controversy led the Army to reconsider its criteria for diagnosing patients with PTSD in the interest of getting more care to veterans suffering from symptoms such as sleeplessness, mood swings and depression.

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