Washington: A study published in the peer-reviewed journal PloS Medicine on Wednesday revealed that US Department of Defense doctors and psychologists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba covered up evidence of intentional harm and torture to the inmates.

The findings came in wake of a host of secret US documents released by WikiLeaks shedding light on conditions in the US military prison in Cuba.

Co-authored by a retired Army Brigadier General and an expert with Physicians for Human Rights, the study is based on a review of the medical records and legal files of nine inmates at the US "war on terror" prison.

The authors call into question whether military doctors, who like their civilian colleagues generally adhere to the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm, should have done more when confronted with potential signs of abuse or torture.

The Department of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Military doctors noted the sudden onset of post-traumatic stress symptoms in some inmates who had no history of mental problems, heard stories of rape and documented bone fractures, contusions and lacerations, but they did not question the cause, the study said.

"The medical doctors and mental health personnel who treated the detainees... failed to inquire and/or document causes of the physical injuries and psychological symptoms
they observed," it said.

In one case, a clinician with the Defense Department's Behavioural Health Service noted a detainee's suicidal thoughts, memory lapses and nightmares, and prescribed antidepressants.

"(You)... need to relax when the guards are being more aggressive," the inmate was told, according to medical records cited by the study.

Reports have already come to light of alleged complicity by CIA doctors and psychologists and DoD behavioural consultants, described by the US government as "non-clinical" experts who were present during the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques such as  waterboarding.

But according to lead author Vincent Iacopino, this study focuses on Defense Department medical personnel -- doctors and psychologists -- who directly cared for Guantanamo inmates and whose role has been largely obscured.

The study does not name the clinicians involved. Iacopino said the doctors' names had been redacted from the documents they consulted, but would be available to those with classified access.

Agencies