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Predeployment Skin Checks Can Reduce Skin Disease Evacuations

Many military cases have non-specific diagnoses at time of aeromedical evacuation

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 18 (HealthDay News) -- The number of aeromedical evacuations conducted by the military for patients with ill-defined skin diseases could be reduced if combatants with chronic skin diseases were identified prior to deployment, according to a study published in the February issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

Timothy A. McGraw, M.D., and Scott A. Norton, M.D., of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., analyzed data on aeromedical evacuations from Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas under U.S. Central Command to identify patients who were evacuated due to ill-defined skin conditions. Diagnosis was provided outside the combat zone by dermatologists.

The researchers identified 170 patients who were evacuated with ill-defined skin conditions, most of which were subsequently diagnosed as dermatitis, benign melanocytic nevus, malignant neoplasms, benign neoplasms or urticaria. If at-risk patients could be identified prior to deployment, prevention and treatment plans could be put in place, which could reduce the number of dermatologic evacuations, the investigators note.

"Regardless of the precipitating diagnosis, any medical evacuation out of the combat zone may hamper wartime operations owing to time away from the battlefield," the authors write. "Cutaneous disorders not directly related to combat injury rarely threaten patient safety and are good candidates for intratheater treatment."

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