Low-graphic news index |
Friday, August 3, 2012 - Page updated at 08:00 p.m.
Reinstated Madigan chief happy to be back
By Hal Bernton
Seattle Times staff reporter
The newly reinstated commander of Madigan Army Medical Center says he was tackling financial and other problems before he was suspended during an investigation of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnoses, and he is eager to resume his work.
"We actually made significant headway in a number of arenas prior to my temporary removal from command," said Col. Dallas Homas on Thursday as he and two other Army officers met with reporters at the medical center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, south of Tacoma. "I am thrilled, excited to be back, to get after it again."
The investigation resulted from concerns raised by soldiers who thought their PTSD diagnoses, which could result in medical retirements with pensions, had been unfairly overturned by Madigan's team of forensic psychiatrists and psychologists. This mushroomed into a broader review of the diagnostic practices in the Army and other branches of service.
Forensic psychiatrists are frequently involved in legal proceedings and civilian disability-claim proceedings and often administer standardized tests, some of which the Madigan team used to help determine whether patients were malingering. Earlier this week, the Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd Austin announced that forensic teams would no longer screen PTSD patients. He also said Homas had not exerted any undue influence on the diagnostic process and would be reinstated. So far, the Army has declined to release its investigative reports.
Homas spoke to reporters along with Maj Gen. Richard Thomas, commander of the Western Regional Medical Command and Lt. Gen. Robert Brown, I Corps commander.
In his remarks, Homas confirmed before his removal he met with an ombudsman to discuss the forensic-screening team. At the time, Homas said he thought the forensic team was executing the accepted standard of care. "Now we have been given a new policy, and we're going to execute that," he said.
The Army's decision to abandon the use of forensic screening has raised concerns among some doctors who practice forensic psychiatry
"I am baffled as to why making a psychiatric diagnosis in a military context should have different criteria from the civilian sector," said Dr. Brian Grant, a Seattle-based forensic psychiatrist. "The matter deserves further study, hopefully including input from medical experts outside the military system."
Brown, the I Corps commander, said that an Army-wide review of behavioral health is due out later this year, and that could help determine how services are offered in the future. "That will certainly shape the road forward," Brown said.
Hal Bernton: 206-464-2581 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © The Seattle Times Company
Low-graphic news index
Graphic-enabled home page