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February 4, 2005 10:51 AM   Subscribe

The Painful Truth. "The Iraq war is a new kind of hell, with more survivors - but more maimed, shattered limbs - than ever. A revolution in battlefield medicine is helping them conquer the pain."
posted by homunculus (17 comments total)

 
Thanks for posting a link to my article, homunculus. In addition to the important work being done by Dr. Buckenmaier to get better methods of pain control to the soldiers in the face of Army resistance, it was important to me to try to get across the fact that despite a relatively "low" death-toll on the US side, the number of survivable serious injuries and amputations is much higher, proportionally, than in previous wars. New armoring technology and an improvement in the Air Force's evacuation chain are definitely saving lives, but the human cost is beyond imagining.

The horrific extent of Brian Wilhelm's wounds -- visible in the kind of photograph that you rarely see in American media -- gives us an idea of what people are facing over in Iraq now: the brave doctors, the young soldiers trying to do their jobs and make it home in one piece, and the civilians.
posted by digaman at 11:03 AM on February 4, 2005


Are there any sources that track the number of soldiers maimed, and what kind of injuries they're sustaining?
posted by odinsdream at 11:04 AM on February 4, 2005


i can only imagine the strain on va hospitals in the coming years...
posted by blendor at 11:35 AM on February 4, 2005


Stupid libruls like you never admit that those soldiers volunteered to [pdf] give Iraqis the gift of democracy.
posted by orthogonality at 11:43 AM on February 4, 2005


So is medical care free for life after you get out of the service?
posted by five dollars worth of thank you cake at 12:07 PM on February 4, 2005


There's an interesting historic parallel. Many of the British airmen who were shot down in the Battle of Britain survived with horrific burns. British doctors, led by New Zealand-born Archibald McIndoe, developed new techniques for treating burn victims, inaugurating the modern era of burn treatment and saving countless lives. The doctors and victims alike were widely publicized and recognized as heroes by the British public.

Here's a nice long article about the whole thing. There's also a recently published book, but I can't remember the title....
posted by mr_roboto at 12:15 PM on February 4, 2005


Hurt to Dead has been about 1 out of 3 from the Revolution to the Gulf War. The reduction to one out of eight is good news...on the surface.

On the other hand, it reduces the impact of a war in the public's mind because the casualty numbers sound lower; versus the total cost of this war... where normally 1,400 deaths would mean you got about 4,-5,000 wounded, now there's almost 10,000. The American Public is not aware of the total cost of this war.
posted by brucec at 12:39 PM on February 4, 2005


In my job as a media specialist at a hospital library, I helped a doc put together a power point of some of the victims he worked on while doing a tour as a combat surgeon early on in current conflict in Iraq. The photos were some of the most disturbing things I've ever seen. People with burns over 70% of their bodies, children with major fractures and burns, and a man with a close proximity gunshot wound to the face. These people all lived, so they're not part of the "death toll". But their lives are never going to be the same again.
posted by cosmicbandito at 12:43 PM on February 4, 2005


It's a great article, Steve. Thanks for writing it.

And thanks for that link, mr_roboto.
posted by homunculus at 12:46 PM on February 4, 2005


Here's quite a good related piece by the writer-surgeon Atul Gawande, Casualties of War-- Military Care for the Wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan. Gawande is a deft writer, managing to write a clear and concise medical report and eulogize a fallen colleague at the same time.
posted by derangedlarid at 1:57 PM on February 4, 2005


dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori
posted by five dollars worth of thank you cake at 2:09 PM on February 4, 2005


When a patient is in tremendous pain and a physician can switch that off, "it's a tremendous power," he said. "It makes you feel very good, particularly since these are American soldiers, the finest citizens we have in the country." Army Physicians Working Toward Bringing Wounded Troops Home Pain-Free


Here is a Duke dept of Ambulatory Anesthesia page and a couple examples of portable infusion pumps from Baxter, the first, SmartDose and the newest latest from bbraun.
posted by roboto at 2:13 PM on February 4, 2005


digaman: The horrific extent of Brian Wilhelm's wounds -- visible in the kind of photograph that you rarely see in American media ...

Compare and contrast Patient Employs Good Humor in Recovering From Wounds in Iraq, the official story about Brian Wilhelm.
posted by raygirvan at 3:44 PM on February 4, 2005


So is medical care free for life after you get out of the service?
Nope.

....well...depends. When it is, you don't want it.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:49 PM on February 4, 2005


So is medical care free for life after you get out of the service?

Well. . . if you retire, yes. If you're seperated, no. However, if you have disability if you get harmed from the job, like these guys. And they have to try to fix you.

Pretty much what Smedleyman said.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 5:01 PM on February 4, 2005


i can only imagine the strain on va hospitals in the coming years...

Speaking of which: The Best Care Anywhere
posted by homunculus at 5:21 PM on February 4, 2005


I wonder if the victims looking at pain for the rest of their lives remain pain-free once they get home and the DEA hounds their doctors for prescribing pain meds?
posted by Enron Hubbard at 7:17 AM on February 5, 2005


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