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Trauma surgeon says U.S. should use wartime lessons to improve care

September 13, 2010 |  8:56 am

Doctors The quote, attributed to Hippocrates, the Mayo Bros., and others, goes something like this: "War is the only proper school for surgeons."

Indeed, wartime necessities have brought innovations in the treatment of traumatic injuries. Pick the conflict and you'll find advances, including the Civil War where surgeons learned how to more safely amputate mangled limbs.

Now, a leading trauma surgeon in San Diego wants the U.S. to learn from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and adopt a trauma system like that the military has used to decrease the mortality rate from battlefield injuries.

Dr. A. Brent Eastman, chief medical officer at Scripps Health in San Diego, is on a campaign to improve the trauma system for civilians, particularly in rural areas where doctors are scarce and air transportation sometimes is non-existent.

"Everyone living or traveling in the U.S. should be able to expect prompt transport to the appropriate level of care appropriate with their injuries," Eastman said.

Read the full story here.

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Dr. A. Brent Eastman, top left, with military surgeons during a working visit to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where wounded military personnel from Iraq and Afghanistan are brought. Credit: Scripps Health