Physician versus paramedic in the setting of ground forces operations: Are they interchangeable?

Gad Levy, Liav Goldstein, Yair Erez, Ronen Levite, Udi Bar, Meir Marmor, Guy Linn, Erez Onn, Yehezkel Levi, Yaron Bar-Dayan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The setting of military ground force operations can be demanding and requires a matched medical assistance plan. A major consideration is the type of medical caregiver that is assigned to the mission. We studied the similarities, differences, advantages, and disadvantages of physicians versus paramedics in this scenario. Methods: We interviewed 20 ground force physicians, highly experienced in this setting. We summarized their responses and formulated quantitative decision-making tables regarding two sorts of missions: a long-duration mission, far from friendly definitive care, and a short-duration mission, close to friendly hospitals. Results: The major areas in which physicians and paramedics differ, pertinent to a ground force operation are: formal education, on-job training, knowledge base, ability to treat a wide variety of medical conditions, ability to perform manual lifesaving procedures, social and moral impact, availability, physical fitness, combat skills, and cost Of a maximum score of 100 points, for a long-term mission a physician scores 77.7 points while a paramedic scores 63.6 points. The scores for a short-term mission are 72.7 and 67.9, respectively. Discussion: Physicians and paramedics are distinct groups of medical caregivers and this is also true for the setting of ground force operations. They are not interchangeable. Our data show that a physician has a relative advantage over a paramedic, especially in long-term missions, far from friendly facilities. Conclusion: A physician is the first choice for all kinds of military ground force missions while a paramedic can be a reasonable substitute for missions of short duration, close to definitive care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-305
Number of pages5
JournalMilitary Medicine
Volume172
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2007

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