Nationwide Campaign Urges Doctors to Ask if Patients are Veterans
Monday, March 02, 2015 02:26 PM

The American Medical Association has urged health care providers to ask patients if they have served in the military and to include that experience in their records.

The inclusion of military service experience -- including assignments and duties -- into the AMA's official guidelines was adopted at the request of the American Psychoanalytic Association.

"Military history will usually not be volunteered by patients if not specifically asked for.  However, serving in the military poses several additional challenges and stressors that can impact the overall health and mental well-being of military personnel and their families. This makes asking key questions about military experience vital to better serving their health needs."

They also would like doctors to put "an expanded version" of the military service question to all patients, so that it the information can be factored when providing care to sons, daughters, spouses or survivors of veterans.

"When a patient comes for medical care or behavioral health care, it is important to ask everyone, including children, if they or a loved one has served in the military," she said. "A child of a deployed parent, for example, may exhibit behavioral problems that can't be understood without knowledge of his parent's military service."

The group requested the change to the AMA's Current Procedural Terminology [CPT] Evaluation and Management Services Guidelines in 2013.  "Hopefully the clinicians will pick it up," said Joy Ilem, assistant national legislative director for Disabled American Veterans. "It's so important that clinicians be aware of what personnel were exposed to in the military.”  The American Academy of Nursing took a similar step in September when it announced a new national campaign called: "Have you ever served in the military?"