A quick and thorough evaluation of patients with traumatic injuries is extremely important. The ideal approach is regimented, practiced, expeditious, and flexible to the environment in which it is performed. Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) courses do a great job of teaching the guiding principles to the approach to the trauma patient. However, while it is relatively simple to become facile with the exam of victims of trauma in the (relatively) controlled setting of the trauma bay, it can be especially challenging to examine the same patient in the field. Just starting out as a new flight physician, you are thrust into an unfamiliar environment, simultaneously trying to examine a sick patient and process a ton of new sensory input. Hopping into the back of an EMS truck, you are confronted with a patient, possibly with multiple potentially life-threatening injuries, and a host of new sights, sounds, and smells. Until you become familiar with this new workplace, you can be more prone to slips and lapses, potentially missing crucial injuries on the patient's you are helping care for.
How do you combat this risk for error? Having a practiced exam that focuses on the injuries that present the greatest life threat and focuses on injuries upon which you can intervene in the prehospital environment is crucially important. In this latest installment of the Air Care & Mobile Care Flight Physician orientation, Dr. Hill, Dr. Steuerwald, and Dr. Gerecht sit down and talk through an approach to victims of blunt polytrauma. You can find the podcast embedded here and through iTunes.