Preparedness of Orthopaedic Surgeons for Modern Battlefield Surgery

Kearney, Sean P.; Bluman, Eric M.; Lonergan, Keith T.; Arrington, Edward D.; Ficke, James R.
September 2012
Military Medicine;Sep2012, Vol. 177 Issue 9, p1058
Academic Journal
Over 220 U.S. Army orthopaedic surgeons have deployed during the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). This study documents the orthopaedic procedures performed during the GWOT and identifies training that prepared surgeons for deployment. It reveals deficiencies in surgeons' preparedness and intends to improve predeployment training. All surgeons deployed during the GWOT from 2001 to 2007 were surveyed. Questions fit 4 general categories: deployment demographics, medical and surgical experiences, predeployment preparation, and self-perceived preparedness during deployment. Response rate was 70%. Surgeons averaged 138 adult operative cases and 26 pediatric cases per deployment. All surgeons performed irrigation and debfidement, 94% external fixation, 93% amputations, 89% arthrotomies, 86% open reduction and internal fixation, and 76% soft-tissue coverage procedures. Residency and fellowship contributed most to surgeon preparedness for deployment. Surgeons generally reported high levels of preparedness, but nearly 1 in 6 reported low levels of medical, surgical and physical preparedness. More reported low levels of mental preparedness. Soft-tissue coverage was the most frequently reported surgical deficiency. This study documents the number and types of orthopaedic procedures performed during the GWOT and identifies the self-perceived preparedness deficiencies of surgeons in a combat environment. Improvements in predeployment training are needed to better prepare surgeons for managing battlefield causalities.


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