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An Evaluation Of Tactical Combat Casualty Care Interventinos In A Combat Environment

Winter 2009

Tien HC, Jung V, Rizoli SB, Acharya SV, MacDonald JC. 09(1). 65 - 68. (Previously Published)

Previously published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, Vol. 207, No. 2, August 2008. Republished in JSOM with permission of Elsevier.


Background: Tactical combat casualty care (TCCC) is a system of prehospital trauma care designed for the combat environment. Although widely adopted, very few studies have reported on how TCCC interventions are actually delivered on the battlefield, from a quality of care perspective. Study Design: This was a prospective study of all trauma patients treated at the Role 3 multinational medical unit (MMU) at Kandahar Airfield Base from February 7, 2006 to May 30, 2006. Primary outcomes were whether or not two TCCC interventions were underused, overused, or misused. Interventions studied were needle decompression of tension pneumothoraces and tourniquet application for exsanguinating extremity injuries. Results: One hundred thirty-four trauma patients were treated at the Role 3 MMU during the study period. Six patients had eight tourniquets applied. Five tourniquets were applied to four patients appropriately and saved their lives. There was one case of misuse where a venous tourniquet was applied. There was one case of overuse where one patient had two tourniquets placed for 4 hours on extremities with no vascular injury. There were seven cases where needle decompression was underused: Seven patients presented with vital signs absent with no needle decompression. There was one case of overuse of needle decompression. There were seven cases of misuse where the patients were decompressed too medially. Conclusions: Tourniquets save lives. Needle decompression can save lives, but is usually performed in patients with multiple critical injuries. TCCC instructors must reinforce proper techniques and indications for each procedure to ensure that the quality of care provided to injured soldiers on the battlefield remains high.

PMID: 19813350