RESEARCH: Lessons learned by doctors and surgeons treating injured soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan in the past decade have been set out in a new report.

Five Birmingham-based trauma and orthopaedic experts have described the lessons, which have been learned since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The report explains the development of new techniques to treat patients injured in blasts from improvised explosive devices, as well as new tourniquets to stop catastrophic bleeding and field dressings impregnated with shellfish extract to stop bleeding faster.

It also describes the complex, life-changing decisions made by surgeons when deciding whether to amputate damaged limbs.

The article also looks at the introduction of the medical emergency response team (MERT), which is credited with saving lives by bringing consultant-level doctors, paramedics and an emergency nurses to wounded personnel in the battlefield.

After initial surgery and stabilisation at Camp Bastion, all seriously wounded military personnel are evacuated to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham for further treatment. They are flown to Birmingham by the Aeromedical Evacuation Service, under the care of the Critical Care Air Support Team (CCAST). This combination of NHS and military care for military personnel only began in 2001, and has been hailed a major success.

Wing Commander Jon Kendrew, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at QEHB and co-author of the article, said: “Since 2003 the way we treat these patients has evolved tremendously at every level. This article draws together many of those lessons, showing how much work has gone into developing our care of men and women who are serving their country so bravely.”

Wg Cdr Kendrew co-authored the article with Colonel John Clasper, defence professor in orthopaedics, and fellow surgeons Kate Brown, major Hugo Guthriea and major Arul Ramasamy.