Early use of anti-biotics in combat trauma is now commonplace amongst most military medical circles. The liberal use of antibiotics in a tactical or combat environment has spawned numerous products to ease the process. Some of the items are very useful while others have little suitability to the injuries associated with trauma created by high-velocity fragments or penetrating trauma.
Antibiotics currently recommended for administration in the tactical environment generally are in pill or injectable form and they function on a systemic level instead of a local level. When considering the depth of the injuries associated with combat, placing a bandage impregnated with an antibiotic on the surface of an injury is almost senseless. It will serve to minimize or eliminate microbial activity at the surface of the wound, but it does nothing for the majority of the injury.
The real danger is when this type of dressing is used as a substitute for administering antibiotics in the field. Topical antibiotic treatment of penetrating trauma is similar to attempting to drink water without opening your mouth. You will wet your lips, which might make you feel better, but does little to help hydrate the body. These dressings do serve a purpose, however. For lacerations, abrasions and burns they are a sensible solution, but you wouldn’t treat a gunshot wound with Bacitracin. Therefore, don’t rely on the same concept in a different form. Administration of systemic antibiotics is the current accepted standard for combat trauma. Don’t accept anything less if you have the choice.