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Warning over trauma patients’ care

A new report shows that less than half of trauma patients receive good care.

And significant improvements must be made in both organisational and clinical aspects of care for patients severely injured in events such as road accidents, the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) said.

Many of the drawbacks in clinical care, it said, related to a lack of
seniority and inexperience of staff involved in the immediate management of trauma patients.

Medical staff often fail to appreciate the severity of illness, display little urgency in caring for patients, and make incorrect clinical decisions, the report noted.

The failures do not just cover in-hospital care, it said, but the care of severely injured patients before they reach hospital.

The report, “Trauma: Who Cares?” recommends that the health service should look at how trauma care can be organised on a regional basis to make sure severely injured patients receive the best possible care.

This should include measures to allow ambulance crews to bypass the nearest hospital if appropriate for a particular patient. A doctor could be a member of the ambulance crew for trauma cases, it said.

Dr George Findlay, NCEPOD clinical co-ordinator, and one of the study authors, said: “Our study shows a picture of current trauma care provision.

“We found that the organisation of pre-hospital care, the trauma team response, seniority of staff involvement and immediate in-hospital care was deficient in the majority of cases.”

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National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death