Renowned trauma expert highlights improvements in battlefield medicine at MHSRS
Brian Eastridge discusses improvements in battlefield medicine with attendees of the Military Health System Research Symposium in Orlando, Florida.
COMbat casualty care has evolved significantly over the past decade.
Pre-hospital care has gone from how to process the movement of casualties through the different echelons of care to the present practice of direct transfer from point of injury to hospitals. All areas of military medical care have improved, and the evacuation chain of survival for the combat casualty has become very efficient.
Brian Eastridge, trauma medical director at the University of Texas at San Antonio Medical Center and a retired Army colonel, discussed these advances in battlefield medicine at the Military Health System Research Symposium in Orlando, Florida.
“Tourniquet use is one area that has undergone an evolution,” said Eastridge. “Until the early part of the most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, tourniquets were mostly employed as a last resort, if at all, because of concerns regarding their safe application. Military research during the past decade, however, has led to standardized use as a first line of treatment for troops injured in combat. And although much has been done with regards to improvements in battlefield medicine, there are some elements that can be improved moving forward. I hope the next few years will bring these developments”
Eastridge served more than 28 years both in active and reserve service, with six operational deployments to support Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was one of the principal architects in the development of the military trauma system, and was the chief of trauma at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.
“After the implementation of guidelines with regard to tourniquet usage by Tactical Combat Casualty Care (also known as ‘T-Triple-C’), only 2.6 percent of combat fatalities for U.S. warfighters were the result of hemorrhage from extremities,” said Eastridge. “This is a notable contrast to the 7.8 percent of fatalities that were attributed to the same cause in the early years of the conflicts in Iran and Afghanistan.”
While much of the talk at the conference focused on the theoretical aspects, there were plenty of practical knowledge sessions that gave military doctors and care providers real-world information. In one such session, a panel of veteran U.S. and international doctors, both uniformed and civilian, were presented real-life trauma scenarios and peppered with questions about what they would do next. Army Lt. Col. Jennifer Gurney with the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research in San Antonio, was one of the moderators hitting the doctors with the questions, similar to what they would have seen during their younger days as interns. She said it’s a rich learning environment.
“It highlights the diversity, complexity and potential learning opportunities in patient care,” said Gurney. “Our motto is lessons learned must not be forgotten.”