All posts by TheTraumaPro

The Handoff In Damage Control Surgery

Damage control is over 25 years old already! We continue to refine the techniques and closure techniques/devices, and have developed novel ways to speed closure of the abdominal wall in order to avoid pesky hernias. But the process itself is time intensive, and typically several days pass with regular returns to OR until closure is achieved.  This is one of the prime areas in which human error can occur, especially with modern service-style coverage of trauma patients.

In the old days, trauma patients were admitted by their surgeon, and that person provided their care nearly continuously until discharge. He or she rounded on them daily, took them back to the OR when needed, and then discharged them.

This is less practical (and desirable) in this day and age. And even if it seems possible, it’s not. No one can be on call 24 hours a day, and provide comprehensive care to every patient, around the clock. Many trauma programs have adopted a “service model”, where patients are admitted to a defined care team and managed by them. The team is led by a surgeon, but that person may change on a weekly (or in some cases nearly daily) basis. I call this the “interchangeable head” model, and to make it work there must be excellent handoffs during any leadership change.

In some cases, a patient may undergo a damage control procedure by one surgeon, but another must do the takeback and possibly the definitive closure. In this case, the handoff is critical! It is paramount that the next surgeon know everything about the first case so that they can perform the correct procedure.

How can this be accomplished? Here are some tips:

  • Do not rely on the medical record and previous operative note. It may not be available, and there is usually some loss of information in recording it anyway. Don’t believe it.
  • Ideally, meet face to face with the previous surgeon(s). Get the blow by blow description of exactly everything that was done and how. Also discuss what still needs to be done, and when. Try to maintain a uniform philosophy of patient care across surgeons.
  • If face to face is not possible, a telephone call is acceptable. The discussion is exactly the same.
  • If the surgery occurred at an outside hospital and was then transferred, you must call the initial surgeon to have this discussion before going to the OR!
  • If something unexpected is encountered during the case, make sure you have contact information so you can call during the case.

Applying these concepts will decrease the possibility of error, as well as the likelihood of any iatrogenic harm to these complex patients.

ED Thoracotomy Survey: Read The Answers! (Rest of the World)

Last time, I posted summary info for ED thoracotomy on US trauma centers. Here’s a rundown of the answers provided by international respondents. A few duplicates from the same hospitals have been merged into single answers for them. The total number of international centers for the tables below is now 43.

Level of trauma center (or equivalent)

Level I 22
Level II 8
Level III 6
No level 7

 

How many ED thoracotomies are performed per year at your hospital?

A few per year (<6) 30
About every month (6-15) 6
A couple of times a month (16-30)4 4
About every week (31-52) 2
Not specified 1

 

What type of trauma do you perform ED thoracotomy for?

Both blunt and penetrating 22
Penetrating 17
Blunt 4

 

Do you use a practice guideline for ED thoracotomy?

Yes 17
No 16
I’m not sure 10

 

Do you use REBOA in your ED?

No 32
Yes 9
I’m not sure 2

 

And now for the questions you’ve been waiting for!

Who could perform ED thoracotomy at your hospital? (n=149)

Surgeon 39
Emergency physician 25
Surgical resident / fellow 15
Emergency medicine resident 7
Intensivist 1
ED intern / medical officer 1
No one 1

 

Who usually performs ED thoracotomy at your hospital? (n=149)

Surgeon 32
Emergency physician 15
Surgical resident / fellow 9
Emergency medicine resident 1
Thoracic surgeon on call 1
Trauma team leader 1
Never done one 1

 

ED Thoracotomy Survey: Read The Answers! (US)

Again, thanks for all who submitted their survey answers. Here’s a rundown of the answers provided by US respondents. A few duplicates from the same hospitals have been merged into single answers for them. Total number of US centers for the tables below is 149.

Level of trauma center

Level I 83
Level II 37
Level III 15
Level IV 1
Level V 2
Seeking verification/designation 1
No level 10

 

How many ED thoracotomies are performed per year at your hospital?

A few per year (<6) 83
About every month (6-15) 35
A couple of times a month (16-30) 23
About every week (31-52) 8

 

What type of trauma do you perform ED thoracotomy for?

Both blunt and penetrating 79
Penetrating 64
Blunt 5

 

Do you use a practice guideline for ED thoracotomy?

Yes 86
No 47
I’m not sure 15

 

Do you use REBOA in your ED?

No 88
Yes 58
I’m not sure 3

 

And now for the questions you’ve been waiting for!

Who could perform ED thoracotomy at your hospital? (n=149)

Surgeon 145
Emergency physician 109
Surgical resident / fellow 93
Emergency medicine resident 66
APP (PA, NP) 2 at one Level I and one Level V
Family physician 1 at one Level V
Family medicine resident 1 at one Level V

 

Who usually performs ED thoracotomy at your hospital? (n=149)

Surgeon 115
Emergency physician 25
Surgical resident / fellow 69
Emergency medicine resident 17
Never done one 3
Family physician or family nurse practitioner 1 at one Level V

 

Who usually performs ED thoracotomy at your hospital? (By trauma center level)

Level I (n=83) II (n=37) III (n=15)
Surgeon 64 35 11
Emergency physician 8 3 6
Surgical resident 63 4 1
Emergency medicine resident 12 1 2
No one 0 0 1

 

Join me tomorrow when I review the international data!

Coming Tomorrow: ED Thoracotomy Survey Results

The data is in!

Thanks to everybody (all 200+ of you) who participated in the ED thoracotomy survey over the past month. I’m currently compiling the results and will post them here over the next two days.

Here is a summary of who responded:

  • 50% were emergency medicine physicians or residents
  • 22% were surgeons or surgical residents
  • 15% were nurses
  • 6% were advanced practice providers such as NPs or PAs

And where were they located?

As you can see, the vast majority (167) were from the United States. Australia, Canada, and Denmark added another 18, and a variety of other countries contributed the remaining 27 surveys.

Over the next two days, I’ll focus on the US data, then look at the results from the rest of the world.

Again, thanks for contributing!