Indiana Soldier deployed to war zone while pregnant seeks medical licensing board investigation

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - The Indiana soldier sent into a war zone pregnant is now taking her case to a Nebraska medical board.

Former Private Ashley Shelton unexpectedly gave birth in a combat zone in 2012. She turned to 13 Investigates to help expose the tightly held Army secret.

Former Army Private Ashley Shelton.
Former Army Private Ashley Shelton.

Last month, 13 Investigates revealed new explosive medical records connected to Shelton's pre-deployment pregnancy testing.

Those records have now prompted Shelton to ask the medical board in charge of the Army doctor's license to take action

In a letter and in her own words, Ashley Shelton explained why she wants the former army doctor who cleared her for combat investigated by the State of Nebraska and it's Board of Medicine.

"I was tested numerous times." she wrote to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services as part of her complaint against Dr. Jonathan Richard Coyle. Coyle is the doctor who sent Shelton into combat despite multiple positive pregnancy tests.

He worked for the Army under a Nebraska medical license issued in 2006.

Before Shelton deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, she says she was told she had conflicting pregnancy tests.

It wasn't until months after 13 Investigates exposed the army secret about Shelton giving birth in combat that a portion of her records were released to her.

Those records revealed something very disturbing and different from what she was told.

The records showed five positive pregnancy tests for Shelton between February and April of 2012.

One of those tests was a blood test. It showed Shelton's hCG or pregnancy hormone levels over 58-thousand, well above the level where doctors would suspect a pregnancy. Coyle dismissed the positive pregnancy tests saying Shelton's exposure to mice in Indiana could have caused false positive pregnancy tests.

"How can a medical doctor of this degree justify deploying a person who has a 58441.00 hCG?," she wrote in her complaint letter.

Independent medical experts told 13 Investigates high hCG levels could indicate pregnancy or worst yet cancer.

"They did not test me for cancer at all," Shelton told 13 Investigates, highlighting what she considers a questionable level of care provided to her by Dr. Coyle.

A 6th pregnancy test was sent by Coyle to a lab in London for analysis. But Shelton never received those results.

Still Dr. Coyle ruled Shelton "deployable" and sent her to Afghanistan.

13 Investigates asked Shelton if there was any reason she thought the doctor would be motivated to send her into battle.

"I went to school for hazardous materials," Shelton told 13 Investigates. "I was the only one that went to school for that in pretty much by whole battalion. So I was mission essential," she said. Training certificates provided by Shelton show she had just completed the training in March of 2012, just months before her deployment.

"Was I just a number or was I a human," she questioned, thinking about the decision to send her into harm's way.

Shelton hopes an investigation by the Nebraska Board of Medicine will force Dr. Coyle to answer questions he's refused to address, including: her London tests results and why she wasn't pulled back from the war zone to get the medical care she and her son deserved.

She says Dr. Coyle could have kept her in Germany where doctors at the Army's contracted hospital could have provided an ultrasound and ultimately helped her to deliver her son.

"A hospital that had a team of doctors, that was sanitary and they're used to delivering children. Not in a bathroom in Afghanistan," she said referring to the latrine in which she gave birth to her son Benjamin.

13 Investigates is still awaiting records from the Army to learn what, if any, action was taken regarding Dr. Coyle's deployment decision.

The Grand Junction V.A. Medical Center has also been asked to provide information regarding Dr. Coyle's work history there.

In April 13, Investigates discovered Coyle working at the V.A. Within a week of our visit, Dr. Coyle was terminated by the VA but no one would say why.

Filed under: