Battlefield medics use medical reference databases

Medics deployed to southwest Asia are now using two off-line medical databases to help them treat warfighters in battle zones.

Micromedex and Medical, Environmental, Disease, Intelligence and Countermeasures (MEDIC) are available on CD to users of the Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care systems that capture electronic medical records on the battlefield.

Micromedex, a commercial product from Thomson Reuters, offers information on medications and toxic substances. MEDIC, which was compiled by the Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center (now the National Center for Medical Intelligence), holds information on diseases and environmental health risks.

“The range of available instructional material from Micromedex, MEDIC and reference texts enabled us to perform more independently and allowed us to provide a vast array of patient care,” said Capt. Daniel Gray, a nurse and clinical officer in charge at the 1171st Area Support Medical Company in Baghdad.

“Medics became more comfortable in their role within the facility as well as treating patients,” he added. “They relied less on the doctors and nurses for information. This helped them and the unit provide better medical care to our patients.”

MEDIC gives providers access to information on conditions specific to the region, such as leishmaniasis, or Baghdad boil. The condition is characterized by skin ulcers resulting from the bite of certain species of sand flies.

Gray incorporated the MEDIC data into daily clinical practices.

“Two conditions we treat frequently are dysentery and sports-related injuries,” he said. “In our unit, we had soldiers who did not understand the importance of washing their hands after working in the motor pool or returning to camp from a field mission. When they came in for treatment, I would print out a synopsis of their illness and stressed that washing hands is the No. 1 method of preventing the contraction and spread of disease.”

About the Author

Peter Buxbaum is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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