BACKGROUND: The report Better Carefor the Severely Injured [London: The Royal College of Surgeons of England and the British Orthopaedic Association; 2000] states that an experienced general surgeon trained in the techniques required to perform life-saving emergency surgery is vital in the management of major trauma. The experience and training of general surgeons in the UK in the management of trauma to the abdomen, thorax and major vessels has never been assessed. METHOD: Postal questionnaire sent to UK general surgical consultants and Higher Surgical Trainees (HSTs). RESULTS: A total of 854 (48%) questionnaires were completed. Of respondents, 85% believe that major trauma should be directed to hospitals that provide a dedicated trauma service. Of non-vascular specialists, 43% felt their training was adequate to manage vascular trauma and only one-third of general surgical consultants felt adequately prepared to manage acute cardiothoracic injuries. The median number of trauma laparotomies undertaken annually was 2 for blunt injury and 1 for penetrating injury. Of HSTs, 21% had not performed a splenectomy for trauma and 44% had no experience of packing for liver injuries. CONCLUSIONS: There is limited experience and training in the surgical management of torso trauma in the UK. Implementation of the recommendations from Better Care for the Severely Injured will be hampered unless steps are taken to maximise experience and improve training.
Senior neuroradiologists or radiologists of 42 hospitals with computed tomography available for NHS patients in England and Wales were contacted by postal questionnaire about the use of this facility in the management of patients with acute head injuries. Replies were obtained from 39 hospitals. Requests for computed tomography from general surgeons or physicians and staff of accident and emergency departments received positive responses for scanning with only half to three-quarters the frequency of responses to requests from neurosurgeons. Continuous computed tomography facilities were available generally to neurosurgeons. The combined effect of partial responses to requests and the availability of the computed tomography service meant that only 44% of hospitals gave a continuous service for general surgeons or physicians. The percentage of hospitals giving a continuous service to accident and emergency departments was 54%. It appeared that computed tomography scanning was being used most often as a diagnostic/management instrument after clinical selection among patients with head injuries rather than as an instrument to be used in primary assessment.
Over the past 5 years, a succession of recommendations or guidelines on the acute management of patients with a head injury have been published. These documents reflect developments in imaging technology, the benefits of specialist neurosurgical care and the need for rehabilitation and follow-up. To a large extent, improvements to the shortcomings of current clinical management will be dependent on the provision of adequate resources, in particular at neuroscience centres. This paper states the present stance of The Royal College of Surgeons of England in respect of key issues addressed in the above publications and reviewed below.
A survey was undertaken to determine the extent to which acute hospitals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were meeting the acute trauma management standards published in 2000 by The Royal College of Surgeons of England and the British Orthopaedic Association.
A questionnaire comprising 72 questions in 16 categories of management was distributed in July 2003 to all eligible hospitals via the link network of the British Orthopaedic Association. Data were collected over a 3-month period.
Of 213 eligible hospitals, 161 (76%) responded. In every category of acute care, failure to meet the standards was reported. Only 34 (21%) hospitals met all the 13 indicative standards that were considered pivotal to good trauma care, but all hospitals met at least 7 of these standards. Failures were usually in the organisation of services rather than a lack of resources, with the exception of the inadequate capacity for admission to specialist neurosurgery units. A minority of hospitals reported an inability to provide emergency airway control or insertion of chest tube. The data have not been verified and deficiencies in reporting cannot be excluded.
The findings of this survey suggest that high quality care for the severely injured is not available consistently across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and appear to justify concerns about the ability of the NHS to deal effectively with the current trauma workload and the consequences of a major incident.
Trauma; Severe injury; Acute care; Survey
the availability of neurosurgical intensive care for the traumatically
brain injured in all 36 neurosurgical centres in the United Kingdom and
Ireland receiving head injuries, the response times to referral, and
the advice given to the referring hospitals.
survey of receiving neurosurgeons regarding their bed status and their
advice on three hypothetical case scenarios. Outcome measures included
response times for an acute head injury to be accepted to a
neurosurgical centre; the intensive care bed status; variations in
advice given to the referring hospitals with regard to ventilation, use
of mannitol, steroids, anticonvulsants, and antibiotics.
were 43 neurosurgical intensive care beds available for an overall
estimated population of 63.6 million. There were 1.8 beds
available/million of the population for non-ventilated patients, 0.64 beds available/million for ventilated patients, and 0.55 beds
available/million for ventilated paediatric patients. London had a
shortage of beds with 0.19 adult beds for ventilation/million north of
the Thames and 0.14 adult beds for ventilation/million south of the
Thames. The median response time for a patient with an extradural
haematoma to be accepted for transfer was 6 minutes and 89% of such a
referral was accepted within 30 minutes. Clinically significant delays
in receiving referrals (over 30 minutes) occurred in four units.
Practices regarding the use of hyperventilation, mannitol,
anticonvulsants, and antibiotics showed little conformity and in some
cases were against the available evidence and advice given by published guidelines.
CONCLUSIONS—There is a
severe shortage of available emergency neurosurgical beds especially in
the south east of England. The lack of immediately available
neurosurgical intensive care beds results in delays of transfer that
could adversely affect the outcome of surgery for traumatic
intracranial haematoma. Advice given to the referring units by the
receiving doctors is very variable.
In 1986 a Royal College of Surgeons Working Party published guidelines, based on over 15 years of clinical research both here and in the U.S.A., on when to perform skull X-rays on a head injury patient. In this retrospective study the recorded details of 405 patients who presented to an accident and emergency (A&E) department over a 3-month period in 1991 are analysed, and the Report criteria applied to each one to assess whether the guidelines are being followed in performing a skull X-ray. According to these guidelines, 191 of these patients (47.2%) should have been X-rayed, however, only 83 were. Only one patient was thought to have been X-rayed inappropriately. The Report criteria most commonly thought by the A&E doctors not to warrant skull X-ray, were loss of consciousness, amnesia, dizziness, blurred vision, headache, and alcohol intoxication. The reasons why these criteria are being ignored are examined, and together with reference to recent studies, slight alterations to the Working Party guidelines are suggested to make them more applicable to everyday situations of head injury encountered in a casualty department.
In the UK, about 2% of the population attend the accident and emergency (A&E) department every year after a head injury. A majority of the patients have minor head injury and are discharged. Studies reveal that patients who reattend the A&E after a minor head injury represent a high‐risk group.
Concussion injuries are common and not all require treatment at the time of presentation. However, some may worsen after initial presentation and develop signs of serious head injury. A case of minor head injury as a result of head butt during a game of rugby, not associated with alteration in conscious state or focal neurological signs, and subsequent development of frontal lobe abscess a month later is reported. It is important that patients fit to be discharged at the time of consultation are discharged in the care of a responsible adult with clear head injury instruction sheets and are advised to return should their symptoms change. A high index of suspicion should be maintained and an early imaging technique, such as CT scan should be considered in patients reattending the A&E with persistent symptoms even after minor head injury.
The first comprehensive report on the interprofessional relationships between foot and ankle surgeons in the UK is presented.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
A questionnaire was sent to orthopaedic surgeons with membership of the British Foot and Ankle Surgery Society (BOFAS), orthopaedic surgeons not affiliated to the specialist BOFAS and podiatrists specialising in foot surgery. The questionnaire was returned by 77 (49%) of the BOFAS orthopaedic consultant surgeons, 66 (26%) of non-foot and ankle orthopaedic consultant surgeons and 99 (73%) of the podiatric surgeons.
While most respondents have experience of surgeons working in the other specialty in close geographical proximity, the majority do not believe that this has adversely affected their referral base. The experience of podiatrists of the outcomes of orthopaedic surgery has been more positive than orthopaedic surgeons of podiatric interventions. Podiatrists are more welcoming of future orthopaedic involvement in future foot and ankle services than in reverse. However, there are a sizeable number of surgeons in both professions who would like to see closer professional liaisons. The study has identified clear divisions between the professions but has highlighted areas where there is a desire from many clinicians to work more harmoniously together, such as in education, training and research.
While major concerns exist over issues such as surgery by non-registered medical practitioners and the suitable spectrum of surgery for each profession, many surgeons, in both professions, are willing to provide training for juniors in both specialties and there is a wish to have closer working relationships and common educational and research opportunities than exists at present.
Foot and ankle surgery; Orthopaedic surgeon; Podiatric surgeon
The notes of all patients attending the accident and emergency department at the Royal Berkshire Hospital with a head injury from 1-30 September 1999 were analysed for the indications for skull X-ray, the report on film, and the outcome of the consultation. Using the existing Royal Berkshire Hospital guidelines, 50% (193/385) of all patients had skull X-rays performed. One fracture was detected. If the recent guidelines from The Royal College of Surgeons of England Working Party for the use of skull X-rays in institutions which possess a CT scanner were applied, the number of skull X-rays performed would reduce from 193 to 14 without detriment to any patient.
This study was a collaboration between The Royal College of Surgeons of England Clinical Effectiveness Unit and the British Association of Head and Neck Oncologists (BAHNO). We created a multidisciplinary database through an enquiry to all 49 UK radiotherapy centres. A questionnaire audit identified teams and individuals in the UK involved with treatment of head and neck cancer. A questionnaire on their organisation, and intentions for change was sent to the 108 teams (90% response) and 11 sole practitioners (45% response) identified. Overall, 335 surgical consultants were involved in the treatment of 7500 cases per annum, with large variations in size of catchment populations served by teams. Mean length of time spent with each out-patient was 11 min. Of respondents, 58% were already using the BAHNO basic dataset and more indicated intention to use it, but only 32% could actually deliver information on their work-load. More computerisation of data collection is essential, and national audit may bridge the data gap.
Objective: : In 2002 a new protocol was introduced based on the Canadian CT rules. Before this the Royal College of Surgeons "Galasko" report guidelines had been followed. This study evaluates the effects of the protocol and discusses the impact of the implementation of the NICE head injury guidelines—also based on the Canadian CT rules.
Methods: A "before and after" study was undertaken, using data from accident and emergency cards and hospital notes of adult patients with head injuries presenting to the emergency department over seven months in 2001 and nine months in 2002. The two groups were compared to see how rates of computed tomography (CT), admission for observation, discharge, and skull radiography had changed after introduction of the protocol.
Results: : Head CT rates in patients with minor head injuries (MHI) increased significantly from 47 of 330 (14%) to 58 of 267 (20%) (p<0.05). There were also significantly increased rates of admission for observation, from 111 (34%) to 119 (45%). Skull radiography rates fell considerably from 33% of all patients with head injuries in 2001 to 1.6% in 2002, without any adverse effect.
Conclusions: This study shows that it is possible to replace the current practice in the UK of risk stratification of adult MHI based on skull radiography, with slightly modified versions of the Canadian CT rule/NICE guidelines. This will result in a large reduction in skull radiography and will be associated with modest increases in CT and admissions rates. If introduction of the NICE guideline is to be realistic, the study suggests that it will not be cost neutral.
INTRODUCTION: This is a consequential study of a previous audit, evaluating the role of skull X-rays in the emergency department in patients with head injuries, to see if the changes recommended, (implementation of The Royal College of Surgeons of England guidelines) have been adopted successfully and had the desired result. PATIENTS & METHODS: All patients who attended the accident and emergency department at the Royal Berkshire Hospital from 1-30 November 2003 with a diagnosis of head injury had their notes analysed for indications for skull X-ray, presence of fracture and outcome. RESULTS: 278 patients were identified as having a head injury and had notes available, 19% (54/278) of these patients had a skull X-ray, of whom 31% (17/54) had a clearly documented indication. This shows a marked improvement from the previous audit when 50% (193/385) had a skull X-ray with only 7% (14/193) having a clearly documented indication. DISCUSSION: Following the introduction of new guidelines, a clear improvement in the practice of evidence-based medicine has been achieved; however, there is still room for further improvement and on-going education of staff and auditing of performance will help to ensure this continues.
We determined the compliance rates of orthopaedic trauma team members in applying universal precautions in major trauma resuscitation scenarios and the availability of universal precautions in accident and emergency (A&E) departments throughout England.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
A national telephone survey was implemented contacting the first on-call orthopaedic surgeon and A&E departments in hospital trusts accepting major trauma throughout England. A questionnaire was employed to ascertain current practice, experience and availability of universal precautions when managing a major trauma patient.
Overall, 112 first on-call orthopaedic surgeons and 99 A&E departments responded. There was good compliance for using gloves (99%) and aprons (86%). There was poor compliance in using eye protectors (21%), face masks (18%), shoe covers (4%) and head caps (4%). Trainees applied universal precautions according to the level of risk they subjectively perceived. All A&E departments had gloves and aprons but the availability of the other universal precautions was less. Of trainees, 76 reported that all universal precautions were not readily available in the A&E department.
Orthopaedic trauma team members are very compliant in using gloves and aprons, but should be more compliant in using eye protectors. It is questionable whether face masks, head caps and shoe covers need to be used in all trauma scenarios. In general, universal precautions should be more available in the A&E departments. There should be better communication between A&E departments and the trauma team regarding the availability of universal precautions.
Orthopaedic trainees; Universal precautions; Blood-borne infections; Trauma scenario; ATLS®
Head injuries are expensive and demanding in terms of resources. In the UK, most are cared for outside neurosurgical centres. In the absence of specialist rehabilitation services, patients with on-going disability add to those admitted for observation and treatment on acute surgical wards. We audited the workload pattern and financial implications related to head injuries on a general surgical unit in a central London teaching hospital. Data collected prospectively at the time of admission and derived from departmental computerized information systems included clinical outcome, hospital stay and its relationship to severity of injury and other factors. Ward, departmental (accident and emergency (A & E), intensive therapy unit (ITU), radiology, and theatre) and neurosurgical referral costs were derived. Long-term social and rehabilitation costs were not calculated. Over a 6 month period 899 patients with head injuries were treated in the A & E department, of whom 156 were admitted. Of the admitted patients 68% were classified as minor; 22% as moderate; and 10% as severe head injuries. Fifty-one per cent of adult admissions were intoxicated by alcohol. Prolonged hospital stay was related to age, severity of head injury, mechanism of injury, associated injuries and preexisting neuropsychiatric conditions (including alcoholism). Six patients died. The direct cost of these head injuries patients was estimated at 173,500 pounds, during which time they occupied 7.6% of our unit's adult inpatient capacity. Twenty-four hour observation of 76 patients with minor head injuries contributed 9700 pounds (5.6%) to this figure. Associated extracranial injuries cost a further 46,500 pounds.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
The results of an audit of open and laparoscopic cholecystectomy conducted by the Comparative Audit Service of The Royal College of Surgeons of England are presented. Data were submitted by 124 consultant surgeons on 3319 attempted laparoscopic and by 227 consultant surgeons on 8035 open cholecystectomies performed in England and Wales during the 2 years 1990 and 1991. These were contrasted with 9322 attempted laparoscopic cholecystectomies reported in 21 series reported in the world literature between 1991 and 1992, and with five other nations' audit studies. Among attempted laparoscopic cases, conversion to an open procedure was necessary in 175/3319 (5.2%) of cases and overall mortality was 0.15% (5/3319). Major complications were reported in 2.1% and minor complications in 5.9% of cases. Bile duct injury was reported to be significantly more common after attempted laparoscopic cholecystectomy (11/3319, 0.33%) than after open cholecystectomy (4/8035, 0.06%) (95% confidence intervals -0.48 to 0.08), but it was not significantly different from that reported for laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the combined world literature (28/9322, 0.3%) (95% confidence intervals -0.19 to 0.25). Most systemic complications were significantly more common after open cholecystectomy. For open cholecystectomy, the mortality was 55/8035 (0.76%), with major complications reported in 3.2% and minor complications in 9.8% of patients. Adoption of the laparoscopic approach was associated with a four-fifths reduction in the mortality of cholecystectomy, and a 40% reduction in the overall complication rate when compared with the open operation. While laparoscopic cholecystectomy has an impressively low mortality and morbidity profile during the first 2 years of its introduction into the UK, prevention of bile duct injury is the most important issue to be addressed in all laparoscopic cholecystectomy training programmes.
There is debate on optimal techniques that reduce bile duct injury during laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC). A national survey of Association of Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (AUGIS) members was carried out to determine current surgical practice for gallstones, including the use of intra-operative cholangiography (IOC) or critical view of safety to reduce the risk of bile duct injury.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS
An anonymous postal survey was sent to all 417 AUGIS members. Data on grade of surgeon, place of work (district general hospital, teaching), subspecialty, number LC per year, use of IOC, critical view of safety, and management of stones detected during surgery were collated.
There was a 36% (152/417) response – 134 (88%) from consultant surgeons (36, HPB; 106,OG; 64, DGH; 88, teaching hospital). Of these, 38% performed > 100 LC per year, 36% 50–100 LC per year, and 22% 25–50 LC per year. IOC was routine for 24%; and selective for 72%. Critical view of Calot's triangle was advocated by 82%. Overall, 55% first clip and divide the cystic artery, whereas 41% first clip and divide the cystic duct. Some 39% recommend IOC and 23% pre-oper-ative MRCP if dilated common bile duct (CBD) is noted on pre-operative ultrasound. When bile duct stones are identified on IOC, 61% perform laparoscopic CBD exploration (LCBDE), 25% advise postoperative ERCP, and 13% perform either LCBDE or ERCP. Overall, 88% (n = 134) recommend index cholecystectomy for acute pathology, and this is more likely in a teaching hospital setting (P= 0.003). Laparoscopic CBD exploration was more likely to be performed in university hospitals (P< 0.05).
A wide dissection of Calot's triangle to provide a critical view of safety is the technique most commonly recommended by AUGIS surgeons (83%) to minimise risk of bile duct injury, in contrast to 24% that recommend routine IOC. The majority (88%) of AUGIS surgeons advise index admission cholecystectomy for acute gallbladder disease.
Gallbladder disease; Intra-operative cholangiography; Calot's triangle; UK audit
This study investigated the impact of the guidelines of The Royal College of Surgeons of England on the practice of hernia surgery in Wales. This was assessed by means of a postal survey to all consultant general surgeons in Wales in 1996-1997. The areas covered were: awareness of the guidelines of The Royal College of Surgeons of England and the impact of such guidelines on their practice, attendance at hernia courses, operative technique, materials used for repair and skin suture, proportion of day case hernias, length of inpatient stay, thromboembolic (TE) prophylaxis and postoperative advice to patients with regard to light work, heavy work and sport. In all, 79 replies were received (85%). Almost all the surgeons had read the guidelines; this changed the practice of 20% of respondents but did not in 32%. A further 48% did not answer the question. In contrast with our 1993 survey results, in Wales there is now a uniform surgical management of adult inguinal hernias: the most common operation is the Liechtenstein, with monofilament non-absorbable suture to secure the mesh, followed by the Shouldice repair. The Bassini and inguinal darn operations are becoming much less common and none now uses braided or absorbable sutures for the repair. Skin closure is still rather variable, with only 58% of respondents adhering to the recommended absorbable subcuticular suture. Postoperative advice is now uniform and in accordance with the guidelines. A trend towards more TE prophylaxis and more day case hernia surgery is also seen.
Background: Sport and exercise related injuries are responsible for about 5% of the workload in the accident and emergency (A&E) department, yet training in sports medicine is not a compulsory part of the curriculum for Higher Specialist Training.
Aim: To determine how A&E medicine consultants and specialist trainees view their role and skill requirements in relation to sports medicine.
Method: A modified Delphi study, consisting of two rounds of a postal questionnaire. Participants were invited to rate the importance of statements relating to the role and training of the A&E specialist in relation to sports injuries (six statements) and the need for knowledge and understanding of defined skills of importance in sports medicine (16 statements).
Value of research: This provides a consensus of opinion on issues in sport and exercise medicine that have educational implications for A&E specialists, and should be considered in the curriculum for Higher Specialist Training. There is also the potential for improving the health care provision of A&E departments, to the exercising and sporting population.
The management of 483 patients presenting with minor head injury to the accident and emergency (A&E) departments of two Scottish hospitals was studied prospectively. Such patients comprised 5.7 and 3.9% of the total attendances to each department. Of the 277 patients assessed in the former department, 83 (30%) fulfilled at least one of the currently accepted criteria for recommending admission to hospital and 49 (17.7%) patients were actually admitted. Patients in whom head injury was not the principal reason for admission were excluded from the study. In the same time period the second department dealt with 206 patients with minor head injury, 49 (24%) of whom had criteria for admission. However, significantly fewer, 10 (4.9%) patients, were actually admitted. The major relevant factor when comparing the two departments was the existence in the former of an observation ward. These results support the view that easy access to hospital beds is a major determinant of management in patients presenting with minor head injury to the A&E department and may be more influential than clinical findings.
To survey clinical practice and opinions of consultant surgeons and anaesthetists caring for children to inform the needs for training, commissioning and management of children's surgery in the UK.
The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) hosted an online survey to gather data on current clinical practice of UK consultant surgeons and anaesthetists caring for children.
The questionnaire was circulated to all hospitals and to Anaesthetic and Surgical Royal Colleges, and relevant specialist societies covering the UK and the Channel Islands and was mainly completed by consultants in District General Hospitals.
555 surgeons and 1561 anaesthetists completed the questionnaire.
32.6% of surgeons and 43.5% of anaesthetists considered that there were deficiencies in their hospital's facilities that potentially compromised delivery of a safe children's surgical service. Almost 10% of all consultants considered that their postgraduate training was insufficient for current paediatric practice and 20% felt that recent Continued Professional Development failed to maintain paediatric expertise. 45.4% of surgeons and 39.2% of anaesthetists considered that the current specialty curriculum should have a larger paediatric component. Consultants in non-specialist paediatric centres were prepared to care for younger children admitted for surgery as emergencies than those admitted electively. Many of the surgeons and anaesthetists had <4 h/week in paediatric practice. Only 55.3% of surgeons and 42.8% of anaesthetists participated in any form of regular multidisciplinary review of children undergoing surgery.
There are significant obstacles to consultant surgeons and anaesthetists providing a competent surgical service for children. Postgraduate curricula must meet the needs of trainees who will be expected to include children in their caseload as consultants. Trusts must ensure appropriate support for consultants to maintain paediatric skills and provide the necessary facilities for a high-quality local surgical service.
The management of breast cancer is controversial. In order to obtain an overview of the way that surgeons manage breast cancer in England and Wales and to assess trends in management by comparisons with the results of previous surveys a postal questionnaire was sent to all consultant general surgeons in England and Wales (n=985).
The response rate was 61%. Fine-needle aspiration is now the preferred technique to obtain a tissue diagnosis by 85% of surgeons. The majority of surgeons now treat early breast cancer either by breast-conserving surgery or offer the patient the choice of conservation or mastectomy. Comparisons with previous surveys carried out in the last 10 years suggest that fewer surgeons now recommend mastectomy. In all, 83% of surgeons indicated that they would biopsy the ipsilateral axilla routinely. Opinion is divided with regard to treatment of breast cancer in the elderly and treatment of an incompletely excised tumour, although the majority perform a mastectomy for a local recurrence after conservative surgery.
Follow-up was regarded as worthwhile by 90%, but the majority do not routinely do follow-up investigations on asymptomatic patients apart from mammography.
This study has shown very little consensus regarding the management of breast cancer in England and Wales. We suggest that the management of breast cancer should be in the hands of those with a special interest in the subject, as these surgeons will be more aware of ongoing clinical trials and current literature, more patients will then be entered into clinical trials and further trials instigated.
Breast cancer; Surgical treatment; Audit
Orthopaedic surgeons are often asked to evaluate X-rays of patients admitted to the Accident and Emergency Department with the suspicion of a wrist fracture or, in the case of an evident fracture, to decide the correct treatment. The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of a correct interpretation of the images of injured wrists on the screen of a last generation mobile phone, in order to evaluate if the specialist could make the right diagnosis and choose the correct treatment.
Five orthopaedic and one hand surgeons have evaluate the X-rays of 67 patients who sustained an injury to their wrist. In the case of fracture, they were asked to classify it according to the AO and Mayo classification systems. The evaluation of the images was accomplished through the PACS and using a mobile phone, at a different time. In order to check the inter- and intra-observer reliability, the same pattern was followed after a few months.
The mobile phone showed basically the same agreement between the observers highlighting the worsening of the inter- and intra-observer reliability with the increment of the variables considered by a classification system.
The present paper confirms that a last generation mobile phone can already be used in the clinical practise of orthopaedic surgeons on call who could use it as a useful device in remote or poorly served areas for a rapid and economic consultation
Level of Evidence
The level of evidence of this case is economic and decision analysis, level 2
Wrist fracture; Telemedicine; Inter-observer agreement; Intra-observer agreement
A decade ago, there were justifiable criticisms of the delivery of emergency care for injured patients in accident and emergency departments in the UK. To address this, a trauma management system was developed in 1991 at Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool. This includes a trauma team, communication system, management guidelines and quality assurance. On admission to the accident and emergency department, injured patients are triaged to one of three levels of injury severity, and a multidisciplinary team lead by a paediatric surgeon or senior accident and emergency department physician is activated. The level of injury severity determines the composition of the trauma team. A care pathway based on ATLS/APLS principles has been developed. The response process as well patient management are documented and reviewed at a monthly audit meeting. Currently, more than 80% of eligible patients are managed using the trauma system, with an over-triage rate of about 25%. Regular modifications to the trauma system since its inception in 1991 have resulted in an efficient and effective management structure. Stratification of the trauma response has minimised unnecessary use of the multidisciplinary trauma team and ensures that mobilisation and use of hospital staff and resources are tailored to the needs of the injured patient. Although developed in a specialist children's hospital, the system could be adapted for any acute hospital.
Ensuring effective distribution of guidelines is an important step towards their implementation. To examine the effectiveness of dissemination of a guidelines card on management of head injury and determine its usefulness to senior house officers (SHOs), a questionnaire survey was performed in May 1990, after distribution of the cards in induction packs for new doctors and at postgraduate lectures and displaying the guidelines in accident and emergency departments and wards. A further survey, in March 1992, assessed the impact of modifying the distribution. All (175) SHOs working in general surgery, accident and emergency medicine, orthopaedics, and neurosciences on 1 February 1990 in 19 hospitals including two neurosurgical units in Northern region were sent self completion questionnaires about awareness, receipt, use, and perceived usefulness of the guidelines. 131 of 163(80%) SHOs in post responded (median response from hospitals 83% (range 50%-100%)). Over three quarters (103, 79%) of SHOs were aware of the guidelines and 82(63%) had ever possessed a guidelines card. Only 36(44%) acquired the card in the induction pack. 92%(98/107) found them useful and 81% (89/110) referred to them to some extent. Owning and carrying the card and referring to guidelines were associated with departmental encouragement to use the guidelines. Increasing the displays of guidelines in wards and departments and the supply of cards to consultants in accident and emergency medicine as a result of this survey did not increase the number of SHOs who received cards (52/83, 63%), but more (71/83, 86%) were aware of the guidelines. The guidelines were welcomed by SHOs and used in treating patients with head injury, but their distribution requires improvement. Increased use of the guidelines may be achieved by introducing other distribution methods and as a result of encouragement by senior staff.
The approach to and management of the athlete with concussion can be a challenging endeavor to physicians who care for athletes who have suffered a head injury—this group includes family physicians, pediatricians, internists, emergency medicine physicians, primary sports medicine physicians, orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, and neurosurgeons. Sometimes questions regarding the need for neurologic, psychological, or radiographic imaging can make the decision for return to play unclear. New legislation will undoubtedly increase physician visits for these athletes to return to play. Thus, the goal of this article is to review the latest guidelines regarding concussion management to help all physicians who care for athletes do so appropriately.