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Preface

Medical Statistics of the United States Army, Calendar Year 1954

Preface

The year 1954 was the first full calendar year free from hostilities since combat began in Korea in mid-1950. This fact had many implications for the Army Medical Service. Not only were Army personnel no longer being wounded and injured in battle, but the size of the Army, and so the number of troops requiring medical care, was reduced. The end of combat meant also that it was possible to make further improvements in sanitary measures and preventive medicine practices in the areas in which some handicaps had existed as a result of the military situation. The declining numbers of battle injury and wound patients still in hospitals, along with reductions in Army strength, produced decreases in the total patient workload which made possible contractions in the medical resources provided.

The data in this volume reflect these considerations. The number of hospital beds operating declined from over 42,000 at the beginning of the year to about 29,000 by the year’s end. The remaining number of battle injury and wound patients dropped from over a thousand to half a hundred. The commissioned strength of the Army Medical Service (doctors, dentists, nurses, and other paramedical officer personnel) dropped from about 18,000 to under 16,000. In part, these reductions represent calculated readjustments to the new situation with a careful view to an optimum balance between the needs of preparedness and the demands of economy. Beneath the surface of the change in gross numbers of Army Medical Service personnel, however, lie the difficulties encountered in maintaining sufficient medical officers to accomplish the mission of the service. Whereas the strength of all Army Medical Service Commissioned personnel dropped 14 percent (more than the corresponding drop in total Army strength), the Medical Corps strength dropped by 23 percent.

The year 1954 was not only free from combat and a transitional period from wartime to peacetime, but it was also remarkable for its extremely favorable morbidity experience. The data in the 1954 report show that this year was the healthiest in the Army’s history. Admission rates, noneffective rates, and mortality rates were all at new record lows. Each of these measures had been at or near record lows in 1953, and in 1954 rates were from 15 to 30 percent lower.

Some of the reasons for this favorable experience are discussed in this volume. Obviously they are manifold. The contributions of medical research and preventive medicine in keeping disease and injury minimal deserve


mention. The relatively favorable respiratory season was a factor. The persistent efforts throughout the Army Medical Service to treat cases on an outpatient basis when feasible and to further reduce length of stay in hospital are reflected in lowered noneffectiveness. The work of the many persons who record and report the medical experience of the Army and who interpret and present the resultant statistical data also plays a part in accomplishing the mission of the Army Medical Service. The degree to which this last is true will be determined, in part, by the extent to which Army Medical Service personnel generally make use of the tool which is provided in these statistical data.

S. B. HAYS

Major General

The Surgeon General