On Veterans Day, we published a piece from a fourth-year medical student titled “From Hanoi to the Streets: One Prisoner of War’s Path to Homelessness.” It described the story of a patient, shared with permission, who identified himself as a veteran of the Vietnam War. Several comments on the piece, including some by historians working at accredited universities, have since raised concerns about the patient’s story.
Here at in-Training, all pieces are subject to a thorough peer-review process. However, it is not common practice for our editorial board to investigate the accuracy of patient stories that are retold in written submissions. Patient-student interactions are usually shared as a medium for student reflection; therefore, what the student learned from the encounter is often emphasized over the accuracy of the patient’s story. It is usually not our place as medical students to question a patient’s story in the exam room.
With this in mind, the editorial board did not consider the possibility of a military impostor while reviewing “From Hanoi to the Streets.” Since the piece was published, several veterans have reached out to us with literature surrounding this topic. As a publication run by medical students, we are grateful for the learning experience this has provided and the opportunity to increase our knowledge base and skill set. From now on, any patient stories submitted to in-Training that mention military service will be verified before publication.
The piece’s author and in-Training‘s board have come to a mutual decision to retract the piece until further review can be performed. We apologize for any misinformation that may have been disseminated. The piece was meant to honor veterans on Veterans Day and we do not want to disrespect those who have served in the military.
We support the author in his empathy and careful listening as a future physician. We hope that the central theme of the piece — physicians tapping into compassion to better understand their patients — is not lost. Finally, we would like to thank all veterans for your service to our country.
Any further feedback on the piece should be directed to our board.
Emma Martin and James Lee
Editors-in-Chief of in-Training