Humanitarian care by a forward surgical team in afghanistan

Mil Med. 2013 Apr;178(4):385-8. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-12-00411.


Background: The mission of a Forward Surgical Team (FST) is to provide immediate lifesaving surgery to wounded U.S. and coalition forces. The degree of humanitarian surgical care provided to civilians is a topic of controversy.

Methods: From May 2011 to November 2011, the surgeons of the 126th FST provided humanitarian surgical care to Afghan civilians.

Results: The FST surgeons provided 553 surgical evaluations on 511 Afghan civilians. Of the patients, 95% were male and 38% were children. Forty percent of the clinic visits involved wound care and 20% involved a general surgery diagnosis. Seventeen percent involved an orthopedic diagnosis and 23% involved various surgical subspecialty diagnoses. Of the patients, 11% required a procedure necessitating the use of anesthesia. Interviews with Afghan patients and civic leaders identified a positive impact.

Conclusion: This is the first report of humanitarian surgical care provided by surgeons of a FST in Afghanistan. Time and resource investment was minimal with no evidence of a negative impact on the primary mission of the FST.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Afghan Campaign 2001-
  • Altruism*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Military*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Military Medicine / organization & administration*
  • Military Personnel*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surgicenters / organization & administration*
  • United States
  • Young Adult