NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Progress in Battlefield Medicine

March 24, 2003

Over the past decade, military doctors have taken a fresh look at battlefield medicine, hoping to apply new technologies and updated trauma procedures to save the lives of wounded U.S. troops. Their efforts may be on the verge of paying off.

Since hemorrhage is the largest preventable cause of death among U.S. soldiers in combat -- accounting for roughly half of all fatalities -- attention has been focused on devices and procedures to halt bleeding.

  • Human-blood clotting factors have been impregnated in bandages to speed clotting.
  • A clotting powder consisting of a porous mineral which absorbs water from blood and concentrates blood-clotting factors has been developed.
  • A one-handed tourniquet consisting of nested loops of fabric with a pull cord allows for self-application.
  • A needle, called an intraosseus infusion device, can be plunged into the sternum's bone marrow to infuse liquids.

Army surgeons are also looking at ways to slow internal bleeding by employing a clotting factor used to treat hemophiliacs.

Source: David P. Hamilton, "Advances in Battlefield Medicine May Save Soldiers' Lives," Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2003.

For text (WSJ subscription required),,SB104811151751647500-search,00.html


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