Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was rushed to the hospital after experiencing nausea and hip pain doctors identified as a urinary tract infection, the Pentagon revealed Tuesday.
A Dec. 22 surgery to address prostate cancer during which the secretary underwent general anesthesia resolved uneventfully and the secretary returned home the next day, Dr. John Maddox Dr. Gregory Chesnut of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center said in the statement provided by the Pentagon. However, Austin was admitted to the hospital on Jan. 1 due to pain resulting from a urinary tract infection.
Austin was placed in the Intensive Care Unit on Jan. 2 for monitoring and care, the statement said, while the hospital resolved the infection.
“On January 1st, 2024, Secretary Austin was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center with complications from the December 22 procedure, including nausea with severe abdominal, hip, and leg pain. Initial evaluation revealed a urinary tract infection. On January 2, the decision was made to transfer him to the ICU for close monitoring and a higher level of care,” the statement read.
“Further evaluation revealed abdominal fluid collections impairing the function of his small intestines,” causing a backup that required the hospital to drain Austin’s stomach which a nasal tube, the statement said.
“He has progressed steadily throughout his stay. His infection has cleared. He continues to make progress and we anticipate a full recovery although this can be a slow process,” the statement continued.
“During this stay, Secretary Austin never lost consciousness and never underwent general anesthesia,” the statement said of the second procedure. During the surgery for prostate cancer, Austin did undergo general anesthesia.
“His prostate cancer was detected early, and his prognosis is excellent,” the statement read.
Austin did not inform the White House or his deputy in the Pentagon of the procedure planned for Dec. 22, the one that led to his emergency return to the hospital on New Year’s Day, CNN reported Monday. At the time, it was unclear whether and for how long Austin might have been sedated during the elective procedure and the Pentagon declined to provide details.
Questions have emerged following Austin’s failure to tell relevant parties he had been hospitalized on Jan. 1 after experiencing complications from an elective surgery. He resumed his full duties as secretary of defense on Friday, when the Pentagon released statement for the first time acknowledging Austin’s hospitalization.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks performed some duties of the secretary while on vacation without knowing Austin was in the hospital. Neither she nor top White House officials, including President Joe Biden, knew until three days after Austin was admitted to the hospital the second time.