About One-Third of U.S. Casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan Wars from Nonbattle Injuries

Bottom Line: About one-third of all injuries to U.S. military service members in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and 11.5 percent of deaths, were from nonbattle injuries, such as falls, motor vehicle crashes and equipment accidents.

Why The Research Is Interesting: Nonbattle injuries increase the burden on the military health care system and reduce the available fighting force. Data identifying specific deployment-related nonbattle injury (NBI) risks may be helpful for safety policies.

Who and When: 29,958 U.S. service members injured in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003-2014

What (Study Measures): Injury incidence, patterns and severity were characterized by battle injury or NBI; proportion of NBIs and changes in NBI over time (outcomes).

How (Study Design): This was an observational study. Researchers were not intervening for purposes of the study and cannot control all the natural differences that could explain the study findings.

Authors: Tuan D. Le, M.D., Dr.P.H., U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and coauthors

Results In Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003-2014:

Study Limitations: The accuracy of data in a deployed combat setting is a significant challenge.

Study Conclusions:

Related material: The commentary, “Actionable Information to Reduce the Burden of Nonbattle Injury in Deployed U.S. Service Personnel,” by Todd E. Rasmussen, M.D., of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, is also available on the For The Media website.

 

To Learn More: The full study is available on the For The Media website.

(doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2018.1166)