Analysis of injuries during military operations has focused on those related to combat. Non-combat complaints have received less attention, despite the need for many troops to be evacuated for non-battle illnesses in Iraq. This study aims to further characterize the disease and non-battle injuries (DNBIs) seen at a tertiary combat hospital and to describe the types of procedures and medications used in the management of these cases.
In this observational study, patients were enrolled from a convenience sample with non-combat-related diseases and injuries who were evaluated in the emergency department (ED) of a US military tertiary hospital in Iraq from 2007-2008. The treating emergency physician (EP) used a data collection form to enroll patients that arrived to the ED whose injury or illness was unrelated to combat.
Data were gathered on 1,745 patients with a median age of 30 years; 84% of patients were male and 85% were US military personnel. The most common diagnoses evaluated in the ED were abdominal disorders, orthopedic injuries, and headache. Many cases involved intravenous access, laboratory testing, and radiographic testing. Procedures performed included electrocardiogram, lumbar puncture, and intubation.
Disease and non-battle traumatic injuries are common in a tertiary combat hospital. Emergency providers working in austere settings should have the diagnostic and procedural skills to evaluate and treat DNBIs.
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