INTRODUCTION: Military aeromedical evacuation, especially that associated with the present Middle East conflict, is seeing increasing research. This ecological study initiates research into the validating flight surgeon by looking at cabin altitude restriction (CAR), arguably the validating flight surgeon's prescription with the highest patient-mission impact, and its association with postflight complications.
METHODS: CAR rates from January 2006 through February 2008 were determined from the U.S. Transportation Command Regulating and Command and Control Evacuation System database. Postflight complication rates-the rate of patients with postflight complications (PFC) and the postflight complications per 100 patients (PFC-100)-from January 2007 through June 2008 were calculated from the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center trauma database. CAR and complication rates were examined before, during, and after the authors' deployment. In addition, the relationship between CAR and postflight complication rates was investigated; as the rates were nonlinear, a Spearman correlation was performed.
RESULTS: CAR rates during the authors' deployments were significantly up compared to the authors' predecessors or successors; their predecessors and successors did not differ statistically. Likewise, the PFC rate during the authors' deployments was significantly lower than that of the before or after time frames. Furthermore, a statistically significant inverse relationship between CAR and PFC rates (Spearman rho = -0.587) as well as CAR and PFC-100 rates (Spearman rho = -0.568) was demonstrated.
DISCUSSION: CAR rate was inversely correlated to PFC and PFC-100 rates. This finding suggests that aggressive prescribing of CARs may have a salutary effect on postflight complication rates and bears further investigation.
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