Military Field Therapeutics

Military Field Therapeutics


a medical discipline concerned with the study of the causes and development mechanisms, clinical course, treatment, and prevention of pathological processes in the internal organs caused by weapons or by the nature of the work and mode of life of servicemen. Improved methods of caring for the sick and wounded during the stages of medical evacuation are also devised and introduced.

The main tasks of military field therapeutics include the study of the disease rate among personnel both during combat action and in the rear services; the study of the origin, clinical symptoms, and course of diseases among soldiers of the army in the field; the study of the etiology, early diagnosis, pathogenesis, clinical courses, prevention, and treatment of pathological processes whose development is caused by the use of nuclear, chemical, and bacteriological weapons and of diseases of the internal organs resulting from wounds, the effect of shock waves, thermal burns, and frostbite; the development and introduction of the simplest and most effective measures under combat conditions for improving the health of armed forces personnel and of methods for the prevention and treatment of diseases; the treatment of questions regarding the conducting of medical examinations by military physicians under conditions of troop combat activity; and the scientific substantiation and introduction of the best means of medical care (for the injured, sick, and wounded) among the field forces and in the medical evacuation stages. The problems of military field therapeutics are dealt with on the basis of advances in medical science and military medicine, keeping in consideration the current state of the art of war.

Russian physicians who took part in wars, such as N. I. Pirogov, M. la. Mudrov, and S. P. Botkin, repeatedly drew the attention of the leaders of the tsarist army and the medical service to the high incidence of infectious and other diseases among the troops of the army in the field, and they demonstrated the need for improvement of the organization of care for the sick in the various theaters of operation. These physicians and later S. S. Zimnitskii and others summarized their experience in special works, including Principles of General Military Field Surgery by N. I. Pirogov (parts 1-3, 1865-66) and Letters From Bulgaria, 1877 by S. P. Botkin (1893).

A fairly well-balanced and perfected system of providing care for soldiers in peacetime and wartime was organized with the creation of the Soviet public health system and the medical service of the Red Army. And as early as the Civil War, despite the difficult circumstances under which it was waged, the sick in the various theaters of operation received skilled medical care. The organization of medical care im-proved as medical science and especially military medical science developed. Military field therapeutics took its final shape during World War II (1941-45). Treatment in stages was instituted at the start of the war, and the peculiarities of wartime pathology were clarified. It was discovered that, among others, rheumatic fever, bronchial asthma, and croupous inflammation of the lungs disappeared or became less frequent in wartime, whereas diseases of the digestive system, infectious hepatitis, hypertension, and others became more common. Internal diseases related to combat trauma were frequent. Scientifically founded and promptly instituted therapeutic and prophylactic measures and the medical evacuation system made it possible to return a great number of sick and wounded soldiers to duty (over 90 percent by the end of 1944). Teams of physicians on all fronts aided by such leading internists as M. S. Vovsi, V. Kh. Vasilenko, E. M. Gel’shtein, P. I. Egorov, N. A. Kurshakov, N. S. Molchanov, A. L. Miasnikov, and S. A. Pospelov studied the most urgent problems in military field therapeutics, summarized the experience gained at the various medical evacuation stages, and, after the war was over, wrote the multivolume work The Experience of Soviet Medicine in World War II, 1941-45 (vols.1-35, 1951-55).

The postwar period was characterized by the further development of military field therapeutics. Soviet and foreign internists are devoting a great deal of attention to developing forms and methods for providing care and treatment for combined combat injuries (traumas combined with radiation sickness, infections, exposure to war gases).


Egorov, P. I. Voprosy voenno-polevoi terapii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1945.
Molchanov, N. S. Voenno-polevaia terapiia. Leningrad, 1961.


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