Every year, hundreds of people are brought to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital with devastating injuries which can change lives forever.
Road crashes and falls are the main causes of people being brought into the hospital’s busy Emergency Department by ambulance with traumatic injuries.
A total of 247 patients were treated for traumatic injuries at the hospital between summer 2015 and 2016, with 120 of those being over the age of 80.
Doctors from the hospital underwent a three-day Advanced Trauma Life Support Course (ATLS), on behalf of the Royal College of Surgeons, to hone their lifesaving skills and increase confidence in dealing with these injuries.
Consultant Anaesthetist Alistair Steel has been running the course locally for three years and says it is important for the local community.
Dr Steel said: “The majority of patients we see here are unrelated to trauma and typically doctors will only see a handful of severely injured patients a year so courses like this play an important role in ensuring doctors remain up to date and confident in applying their life-saving skills.
“As the injuries we see here are different to what you would see in places like London, we do try to make the course relative to this area. Most of the major traumatic injuries we see in West Norfolk are caused by older people falling over.”
Last year staff at the A&E department treated injuries related to 39 road crashes and 196 falls, 23 which were from over two metres in height.
Up to 29 trauma patients were over the age of 90 and seven were under the age of 18.
Dr Steel said: “Broken hips are among the most common traumatic injury we see here. This type of injury may not sound ‘traumatic’ but these are very distressing for older people along with making a big impact on their lives and future mobility.
“Trauma is the commonest cause of death for people under the age of 40 in this country, and in this region most young people die as a result of injuries sustained in car accidents. Fortunately we see little of the violent crime that lager cities such as London see. For older people falls are a big problem, some of which can be prevented by simple adjustments for example:
– Remove clutter
– Clear pathways of rugs, cables and other trip hazards
– Use bright lighting
– Exercise regularly and practice balance training
“While we would love to see many of these injuries prevented, courses such as this help the region’s doctors better care for patients should they sustain injuries.
“We are really proud of the 20 candidates that put themselves through the training – they all did really well. We are also grateful to the expert senior doctors from the QEH and around the region that helped us to run the course.”
The ATLS course was developed in America during the 1970s to ensure doctors in rural areas had adequate training in trauma management. Dr James K Styner helped to create the course after his wife died in a plane crash in Nebraska which also left three of their four children unconscious with head injuries.
Pictured are QEH staff at the course