Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin remained hospitalized Monday, following a non-surgical procedure to address a bladder issue that sent him on Sunday to the intensive care unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
Austin’s most recent issue is not expected to affect his prostate cancer prognosis, his doctors said in a release Monday, and he is expected to be able to resume his normal duties on Tuesday.
“The current bladder issue is not expected to change his anticipated full recovery,” Dr. John Maddox, Walter Reed’s trauma director, and Dr. Gregory Chestnut, Walter Reed’s head of prostate disease research, said in a joint statement. “His cancer prognosis remains excellent.”
Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks has been acting defense secretary since late Sunday afternoon, Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters Monday. Hicks was notified of Austin’s move to Walter Reed at the same time as White House and congressional officials, Ryder said.
Ryder did not say whether Austin’s “bladder issue” is related to the urinary tract infection that sent him to Walter Reed for two weeks earlier this year, a complication from a prostate cancer procedure completed Dec. 22.
Austin has canceled an upcoming trip to Europe, for which he was scheduled to leave Tuesday. He plans to participate remotely in a Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting on Wednesday, Ryder said, but will be replaced by Celeste Wallander, assistant defense secretary for international security affairs, if he is not well enough to join.
Austin will be represented by NATO Ambassador Julie Smith on Thursday at a NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels, Belgium.
Before his hospitalization, Austin received a copy of a Pentagon review into his January hospitalization and recommendations for a new notification policy for senior government officials in the event of a defense secretary’s incapacitation.
Austin has handled his latest hospitalization with much more transparency than his previous stays at Walter Reed, during which time only a few members of his staff knew why he had temporarily passed duties to Hicks.
Ryder could not specify when Austin will sign off on the review or when the Pentagon will be able to share details publicly.
“Our aim is to try to provide as much information about the review to you, when we can,” he said.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.