“For the first time in U.S. military history, we have the necessary policy to create and maintain a durable, enduring trauma system in times of war and peace,” said David Smith, MD, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Health Readiness Policy and Oversight, in an article for Health.mil.
Dr. Smith is talking about DoD Instruction (DoDI) 6040.47, which codifies clinical guidance for the continuum of patient care.
The move is the latest in a series of steps that began in 2003, when the Joint Trauma System (JTS) was conceived. Although medical care then was well documented in theater, critical patient information wasn’t readily available as a patient moved through multiple hospitals. Moreover, deployed medical teams relied on telephonic coordination for long-term follow-up.
“The new DoD guidelines validate all the lessons learned from the ad hoc processes used out of necessity in establishing the JTS,” said JTS Director Navy Capt Zsolt Stockinger. The DoDI provides operational commanders, clinical providers, and medical planners with the best known combat medical techniques and procedures to minimize trauma-related disability and eliminate preventable deaths after injury.
Stockinger adds, “The JTS DoDI is not meant to dictate ‘how’ and ‘what’ a trauma system should look like, because each environment and location will dictate certain aspects of a trauma system.” Rather, Stockinger says, the JTS team is a resource to help others find the best solutions as they establish and grow their own geographic trauma system.