Measuring US Army medical evacuation: Metrics for performance improvement

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

The US Army medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) community has maintained a reputation for high levels of success in transporting casualties from the point of injury to definitive care. This work served as a demonstration project to advance a model of quality assurance surveillance and medical direction for prehospital MEDEVAC providers within the Joint Trauma System.

METHODS

A retrospective interrupted time series analysis using prospectively collected data was performed as a process improvement project. Records were reviewed during two distinct periods: 2009 and 2014 to 2015. MEDEVAC records were matched to outcomes data available in the Department of Defense Trauma Registry. Abstracted deidentified data were reviewed for specific outcomes, procedures, and processes of care. Descriptive statistics were applied as appropriate.

RESULTS

A total of 1,008 patients were included in this study. Nine quality assurance metrics were assessed. These metrics were: airway management, management of hypoxemia, compliance with a blood transfusion protocol, interventions for hypotensive patients, quality of battlefield analgesia, temperature measurement and interventions, proportion of traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients with hypoxemia and/or hypotension, proportion of traumatic brain injury patients with an appropriate assessment, and proportion of missing data. Overall survival in the subset of patients with outcomes data available in the Department of Defense Trauma Registry was 97.5%.

CONCLUSION

The data analyzed for this study suggest overall high compliance with established tactical combat casualty care guidelines. In the present study, nearly 7% of patients had at least one documented oxygen saturation of less than 90%, and 13% of these patients had no documentation of any intervention for hypoxemia, indicating a need for training focus on airway management for hypoxemia. Advances in battlefield analgesia continued to evolve over the period when data for this study was collected. Given the inherent high-risk, high-acuity nature of prehospital advanced life support and emphasis on the use of nonphysician practitioners in an out-of-hospital setting, the need for ongoing medical oversight and quality improvement assessment is crucial.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE

Care management, level IV.

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