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Grim catalog of war wounded could be model for military medicine

During a tour in Afghanistan with the Army's 101st Airborne Division, brigade surgeon Col. Michael D. Wirt compiled a vast database of the injuries he saw, creating an unprecedented catalog of battlefield trauma and care that could yield valuable insights for physicians and historians, The New York Times reported.

Wirt recorded the war wounds of more than 500 American soldiers, as well as Afghan combatants and civilians, during the 2010-11 effort to dislodge the Taliban from their rural stronghold along the Arghandab River, the Times reported. He made detailed notes of both the nature and circumstances of the injuries, as well as how the patients were treated and how they fared during recovery.

Military officials told the Times Wirt's data could be a model for a military-wide database to track combat injuries; although individual units track casualties, medical records are scattered throughout various agencies and no centralized system exists to record and analyze the data. That kind of big-picture information could help researchers studying battlefield medicine, workplace safety and military strategy and history.

The Times quoted officers who said many people in the military oppose sharing detailed medical data out of concerns about patient privacy, a desire to present an airbrushed picture of war for public consumption, and concerns that the enemy could use the information to develop tactics to inflict more casualties on U.S. troops.

Source: The New York Times

 

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