One of the most heralded innovations of modern military medicine—hemostatic dressings designed to stop the kind of bleeding that has killed combatants for centuries—has also created an inter-service rivalry, with Army and Navy surgeons at odds over which branch's dressing is saving lives and which might be costing lives.
Every Marine in combat today carries a package of QuikClot, an inorganic, sand-like substance developed by Connecticut-based Z-Medica Corp. with assistance from Navy scientists. Doctors who have poured it into combat wounds say QuikClot can stop bleeding in cases where tourniquets cannot, saving lives from injuries that were often fatal in the past.
Among QuikClot's proponents is Captain Peter M. Rhee, U.S. Navy, director of the Navy Trauma Training Center, who became a devotee three years ago after pouring some into a civilian gunshot victim as a last resort.
"I was sure he was going to bleed to death," Rhee said. "So I ran to my office and got some QuikClot, scrubbed up and poured it in, and that guy walked out of here."