Linking Combat Mortality & Medical Evacuation Transport Time

Research Paper Title

Impact of prehospital medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) transport time on combat mortality in patients with non-compressible torso injury and traumatic amputations: a retrospective study.

Background

In combat operations, patients with traumatic injuries require expeditious evacuation to improve survival. Studies have shown that long transport times are associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Limited data exist on the influence of transport time on patient outcomes with specific injury types. The objective of this study was to determine the impact of the duration of time from the initial request for medical evacuation to arrival at a medical treatment facility on morbidity and mortality in casualties with traumatic extremity amputation and non-compressible torso injury (NCTI).

Methods

The researchers completed a retrospective review of MEDEVAC patient care records for United States military personnel who sustained traumatic amputations and NCTI during Operation Enduring Freedom between January 2011 and March 2014. The researchers grouped patients as traumatic amputation and NCTI (AMP+NCTI), traumatic amputation only (AMP), and neither AMP nor NCTI (Non-AMP/NCTI). Analysis was performed using chi-squared tests, Fisher’s exact tests, Cochran-Armitage Trend tests, Shapiro-Wilks tests, Wilcoxon and Kruskal-Wallis techniques and Cox proportional hazards regression modeling.

Results

The researchers reviewed 1267 records, of which 669 had an injury severity score (ISS) of 10 or greater and were included in the analysis. In the study population, 15.5% sustained only amputation injuries (n=104, AMP only), 10.8% sustained amputation and NCTI (n=72, AMP+NCTI), and 73.7% did not sustain either an amputation or an NCTI (n=493, Non-AMP/NCTI). AMP+NCTI had the highest mortality (16.7%) with transport time greater than 60 min. While the AMP+NCTI group had decreasing survival with longer transport times, AMP and Non-AMP/NCTI did not exhibit the same trend.

Conclusions

A decreased transport time from the point of injury to a medical treatment facility was associated with decreased mortality in patients who suffered a combination of amputation injury and NCTI. No significant association between transport time and outcomes was found in patients who did not sustain NCTI. Priority for rapid evacuation of combat casualties should be given to those with NCTI.

Reference

Maddry, J.K., Perez, C.A., Mora, A.G., Lear, J.D., Savell, S.C. & Bebarta, V.S. (2018) Impact of prehospital medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) transport time on combat mortality in patients with non-compressible torso injury and traumatic amputations: a retrospective study. Military Medical Research. 5(1):22. doi: 10.1186/s40779-018-0169-2.

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