Battlefield Analgesia: TCCC Guidelines Are Not Being Followed

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    Schauer SG, Robinson JB, Mabry RL, Howard JT 15(1). 85 - 89 (Journal Article)

    Background: Servicemembers injured in combat often experience moderate to severe acute pain. Early and effective pain control in the prehospital setting has been shown to reduce the sequelae of untreated pain. Current data suggest that lack of point-of-injury (POI) analgesia has significant, downstream effects on healthcare quality and associated costs. Methods: This was a process improvement project to determine the current rate of adherence to existing prehospital pain management guidelines. The records of patients who had sustained a major injury and met current Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) criteria for POI analgesia from July 2013 through March 2014 were reviewed to determine if pain medication was given in accordance with existing guidelines, including medication administration and routes. On 31 October 2013, the new TCCC guidelines were released. The "before" period was from July 2013 through October 2013. The "after" period was from November 2013 through March 2014. Results: During the project period, there were 185 records available for review, with 135 meeting TCCC criteria for POI analgesia (68 pre-, 66 postintervention). Prior to 31 October 2013, 17% of study patients received analgesia within guidelines at the POI compared with 35% in the after period. The most common medication administered preand post-release was oral transmucosal fentanyl citrate. Special Operations Forces had higher adherence rates to TCCC analgesia guidelines than conventional forces, but these still were low. Conclusion: Less than half of all eligible combat casualties receive any analgesia at the POI. Further research is needed to determine the etiology of such poor adherence to current TCCC guidelines.

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