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Combat Surgery Series Episode 3: Pediatric Trauma Care in Military Medicine- COL John Horton, M.D.

In the latest episode of WarDocs, the military medicine podcast, we plunge into the world not often spotlighted – the critical realm of pediatric trauma care in military settings. With Colonel Dr. John Horton, the Chief of Pediatric Surgery at Madigan Army Medical Center and Deputy Consultant to the US Army Surgeon General for General Surgery, we get a rare and profound insight into the intricacies of treating the youngest casualties of conflict.

Pediatric trauma care is a unique and emotional battlefield within military medicine. Dr. Horton illuminates the staggering statistic that 7% of US military hospital admissions during recent conflicts involved pediatric patients. This number may seem small at first glance, but it represents many young lives, each with a potentially heart-wrenching story.

Dr. Horton delves into the specific challenges of pediatric care in the military, including the development of a military-specific curriculum by the American College of Surgeons. The emotional toll on healthcare providers is palpable as Dr. Horton discusses the sense of guilt that often accompanies treating young victims, many of whom are innocents caught in the crossfire.

A particularly gripping segment of the podcast explores Dr. Horton’s experience with telecommunication surgery. Using FaceTime, he has guided field surgeons through complex procedures, including a high-stakes surgery on an infant with a distended abdomen. These moments demonstrate the innovative use of technology in remote and austere environments and the resilience and adaptability required in military medicine.

Listeners are taken on a journey that isn't just a series of stories from the frontlines but a comprehensive masterclass in decision-making under pressure. Dr. Horton shares invaluable advice for those facing deployments in pediatric trauma care and highlights the importance of being prepared for the unpredictable.

One standout moment from the episode is the stark reality of treating pediatric blast injuries, a common occurrence in war zones. Dr. Horton provides guidance on managing these complex cases, emphasizing the importance of thorough assessment, rapid decision-making, and the sometimes gut-wrenching need to perform life-saving amputations.

The podcast is a testament to the dedication and expertise of military medical professionals like Dr. Horton, who operate under the most challenging conditions. It's a tribute to their ability to adapt, commitment to saving lives, and unwavering support for each other in the face of adversity.

For medical professionals, military members, or anyone interested in the often unseen aspects of conflict, this episode of WarDocs is a must-listen. It offers a powerful perspective on the reality of pediatric trauma care in military medicine, and it's a sobering reminder of the work that still needs to be done to protect and heal the youngest victims of war.

The interview featuring Dr. Horton is available on all major podcast platforms.  Here are some popular links that will bring you directly to the episode:

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