Lt. Col. Jimmie Keenan, U.S. Army nurse, spurs key change for trauma research
April 8, 2003 -- Gina Kolata's piece in today's New York Times, "Trauma Medicine: Stepchild No More," highlights the exciting opportunities created by a recent change in federal law allowing the Defense Department to participate in clinical trauma research. The article tells how Lt. Col. Jimmie Keenan, an Army nurse, realized while serving as a field hospital head nurse in Kosovo in 1999 that some battlefield trauma practices had changed little since the U.S. Civil War. Later, as a Congressional fellow, Lt. Col. Keenan initiated and helped draft legislation to change a law barring military involvement in health research without explicit advance consent, which had precluded most clinical trauma research. Unfortunately, most of the article is devoted to physicians whose work will benefit from the change, and relatively little to the senior nurse whose patient advocacy led to it. Indeed, three physicians are identified by name and title before Lt. Col. Keenan, who is initially described only as "an Army nurse." The roles of nurses in trauma care and research are ignored. The only photo accompanying the web edition article is of a physician. Nevertheless, Ms. Kolata and the Times are to be commended for including some quotes from Lt. Col. Keenan and explaining the importance of her contribution to trauma care.