Objective: To review injury occurrence and to evaluate various injury surveillance systems used on recent deployments of U.S. military personnel.
Background: Injuries that occur in a deployed military force are more likely to have an immediate and detrimental effect on the military mission than those in garrison or training. These injuries have a direct impact on deployed personnel and unit readiness and consume limited field medical resources.
Methods: Data collected during four recent deployments were evaluated. Administrative databases established for the routine collection of death and hospital admissions were used to characterize mortality and morbidity in the Persian Gulf War. Surveillance teams deployed to Haiti, Somalia, and Egypt provided inpatient and outpatient data for those missions.
Results: Data collected by these surveillance systems are presented. Unintentional trauma accounted for 81% of deaths during the Persian Gulf War and 25% of hospital admissions. During operations in Somalia and Haiti, 2.5% to 3.5% of about 20,000 troops in each deployment sought medical treatment for an injury or orthopedic problem each week. In Egypt, injuries accounted for about 25% of all outpatient visits to medical treatment facilities.
Conclusions: Injuries were the leading cause of death and a leading cause of morbidity during recent deployments of U.S. troops. Comprehensive injury surveillance systems are needed during deployments to provide complete and accurate information to commanders responsible for the safety of the force. Recommendations for establishing such systems are made in this article.