Adapting to Death: Clarifying the Roles of Special Operations Combat Medics in Prolonged Field Care

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Jeschke EA 18(4). 153 - 156 (Journal Article)

I suggest that Special Operations Forces (SOF) medicine should explicitly acknowledge the Special Operations combat medic's role in attending death. This acknowledgment will allow researchers to evaluate and delimit the medic's needs in relationship to an expanded set of roles that move beyond life-saving care. This article comprises four sections. First, I provide background to my argument by exploring some assumptions of modern medicine and objections to exploring battlefield death care. Second, I describe how I see the medic's role expanding with the introduction of prolonged field care. Third, I address the implications of the medic's expanded role in relationship to role and function stress and strain. Fourth, I address the moral complexity related to withdrawing or withholding care. I conclude by briefly highlighting some of the implications for future research. In explicitly engaging death as a medical reality for which the medic ought to be prepared, SOF medicine could set the foundational development for seeing death as a valuable gift to be explored, not a failure to be avoided or burden to be overcome.

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