The ACS Review Dinner is an important part of gathering information on your trauma program. Many of the principal players in your program are present, and the reviewers will have specific questions for most. Although the reviewers may meet many informally before dinner begins, it may be difficult to keep all the names and titles straight.
Good signs at the table are very helpful. Here are key points on providing the best signage possible:
The sign must be large. Compare the size of the sign in the photo to the 8.5×11 inch document next to it.
The font size should be large. This allows the reviewers to read name and title from across the room.
The same information should be on both sides. Everyone can see their own name so they know where to sit without turning every sign around.
The sign in the photo is a perfect example of what a good placeholder should look like.
Trauma patients who are hypotensive in the Emergency Department can only be transported to one of two places: the operating room or the morgue. With rare exception, they should never be taken outside the department (e.g. CT scan) because of the fear that they may arrest in an area that is not conducive to efficient resuscitation.
Sometimes patients are initially stable but decompensate later. Since most stable blunt trauma patients end up in CT scan, perhaps there is some telltale sign that can predict later deterioration. A recent Japanese paper looked at the “flatness” of the inferior vena cava as seen on the abdominal CT scan as a predictor of hemodynamic decompensation in the first 24 hours.
A small cohort of 114 patients was used in this prospective study. The vena cava was evaluated at the level of the renal veins. The flatness of the IVC was determined by dividing the transverse diameter by the anteroposterior (AP) diameter. A flat IVC was defined as a transverse to AP diameter ratio of more than 4:1. The ratio in normal patients was about 2:1. See the figure for details.
Patients who had a flat IVC required significantly more blood transfusions, crystalloid infusions within 2 hours of admission, and were more likely to proceed to the OR within the first 24 hours of their hospital stay.
Bottom Line: Assuming that you are only taking stable blunt trauma patients to CT, the incidental finding of a flat vena cava should increase your paranoia levels and lower your threshold for ordering blood and getting the trauma surgeons involved.
Reference: Predictive value of a flat inferior vena cava on initial computed tomography for hemodynamic deteroration in patients with blunt torso trauma. J Trauma 69(6):1398-1402, 2010.
Bleeding from scalp wounds may seem like a trivial problem, but I have personally seen someone die from unrecognized hemorrhage over time from one. All too often, these are covered up with a crude dressing when the patient arrives in the ED and is not looked at for some time.
Here are some tips to stop scalp bleeding:
Use direct pressure. This seems obvious but is frequently done incorrectly. Direct pressure involves a small diameter piece of gauze (stack of 2x2s or double folded 4×4) and only one or two fingers. Larger dressings or the palm of the hand do not provide enough pressure to stop all the bleeding. Direct pressure for 5 minutes (no peeking) will stop all bleeding that doesn’t need more advanced techniques.
Inject local anesthetic with epinephrine. This increases vasoconstriction and helps the direct pressure work even better. Be cautious if there is a large skin flap that does not have a nice pink color. Degloved skin has been crushed and small vessel vascular injury has occurred. Further reducing blood flow with epinephrine may kill the skin flap in this type of injury.
Apply Raney clips. Neurosurgeons use these to stop scalp bleeding during brain procedures. Caution! Only apply to unconscious patients, and only to the scalp (not face)! These hurt!
Oversew the scalp. Use a large silk or nylon suture and insert a large running stitch to close the wound. This will stop all bleeding from the skin edges. However, any arterial bleeders underneath will continue to be a problem.
Ligate individual bleeders. Use a small absorbable suture and attack each small arterial bleeder with a figure of 8 stitch. Don’t suture large chunks of tissue; make sure that you are attacking just the artery and not any adjacent nerves.
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