Hick's suspension is the latest development in a turbulent 12-month period for Madigan behavioral-health staff members, who treat soldiers who return from war with PTSD and other mental-health problems. Last year, the Army launched investigations into how Madigan staff screen PTSD patients under consideration for medical retirement. During that investigation, two doctors were temporarily barred from clinical duties.
The diagnosis of PTSD has become a critical issue in the military in the aftermath of a 2008 change in law that mandated soldiers unable to serve due to the disability be qualified for medical retirement with pension and other benefits.
Madigan set up a team of forensic psychiatrists to screen patients under consideration for such retirements and ferret out soldiers who might be malingering. The team reversed more than 300 PTSD diagnoses.
But the forensic screening team was suspended and then permanently curtailed last year. Many patients underwent re-evaluations that reinstated PTSD diagnoses.
Hicks is a retired Army colonel and a former psychiatry department chairman. He headed up an intensive outpatient treatment program for PTSD. The circumstances of the program's 2010 closure were part of last year's Army investigations.