In a new advisory memorandum, the Navy has clarified when medical care
providers should alert commanders of indications of misconduct from an
active duty member. The notice comes following what has been recognized
as "understandable confusion" on what to do with evidence of
patient misconduct that is discovered during the course of providing medical
"Standard of Care"
Under the memorandum, healthcare providers are directed to follow the standard
of care, which calls for documenting all medical evidence relevant to
the reason why the active duty member is receiving treatment. This evidence includes:
- The primary complaint/cause for the medical treatment
- The studies ordered to help determine a diagnosis (like toxicology screenings)
- The diagnosis given by the doctor
- Any information that the patient volunteers
Using that standard of care, all relevant information should be entered
into the patient's medical record. If that recorded information strongly
indicates or confirms misconduct (such has drug abuse, domestic violence,
sexual assault, etc.) or indicates that an active duty member's ability
to perform their duties is compromised, then military commanders should
To further clarify this standard and the many nuanced circumstances that
can occur during medical treatment, the memorandum provides several scenarios
with recommended courses of action for medical professionals. For instance,
if an active duty member is having a routine check-up admits to using
marijuana over the weekend, it is up to the medical provider to decide
whether that information is relevant to their overall health (and fitness
to serve their duty). If it is (and smoking anything almost always is),
then it should be entered in the medical record-- thus qualifying it for
reporting to commanders. So even while Soldier was not seeking treatment
due to his use of marijuana, there is room for interpretation by the medical
More difficult to parse are scenarios involving mental health. The memorandum
describes one example of an active duty member who admits to a mental
health provider that they are "interested" in a terrorist group.
Because mere "interest" is vague, the care provider may not
be required to immediately report the active duty member (according to
the standards of care). However, if the patient shares that they intend
to join the group, that would be far more specific and indicative that
the active duty member may be compromised and could be a potential threat
to others. In this scenario, the medical care provider would likely be
required to report the active duty member.
You can read all of the new memorandum, "Healthcare Provider Reporting of Active Duty Patient Misconduct
Discovered During the Course of Health Care Treatment" here.
If you are a military servicemember facing criminal or administrative allegations
resulting from medical treatment, then it is critical that you know what
your legal options are.
Joseph L. Jordan, Attorney at Law is a 10+ year veteran of the U.S. Army who now travels around the world
to defend the rights and interests of accused armed service members.
You do not have to face the allegations against you without proven counsel
by your side. Contact our firm today to request a
free case evaluation.