While many people carefully research and review which doctors theychoose to see for conditions such as cancer and heart disease, most peoplerarely think about the doctors and nurses that will care for them after asudden injury brings them to a hospital trauma bay.
Over the last two months, unfortunate events such as the bombings at the BostonMarathon and the recent building collapse in Center City have brought into thefocus the critical role that hospital trauma providers play in evaluating andtreating patients after catastrophic events.
In the hours and days after the bombings in Boston, Penn Medicinetrauma surgeons were tapped by the news media to speak about the type ofinjuries that can result from explosions and bombings and how hospitals preparefor these types of cases.
Niels Martin, MD,assistant professor of Surgery, Division of Traumatology, Surgical CriticalCare, and Emergency Surgery,told CBS 3 “There are a compilationof injuries you will see after a blast. Injuries can include burns, fractures,ruptured ear drums, and wounds from flying debris. The injuries most commonlyseen are head injuries, followed by injuries from that primary blast wave whereyou will see injuries to the lungs and the chest cavity itself.”
Steven R. Allen, MD,assistant professor of Surgery in the Division told 6ABC that the quick work by marathon medical staff, EMS crews, andhospital staff in Boston played a crucial role in saving the lives of those whowere injured in the blasts. He said while you cannever be fully prepared for everything, the disaster drills that are practicedin major cities across the country, including Philadelphia, help. “The goal isto have an awareness that will at least allow you to be in a state of mindwhere you can tackle some of these issues. In watching the news reports, Ithink once everyone realized what happened, they shifted into an amazing stateof mind and the response was remarkable.”
The day of the building collapse in Center City Philadelphia twoweeks ago, Patrick Kim, MD,Trauma Program Director at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania(HUP), along with Elizabeth Datner, MD,associate professor of Emergency Medicine, briefed reporters on the injuriesthat survivors were experiencing and what kind of recovery they could face. Inthe days that followed, Dr. Kim also spoke with reporters in another pressbriefing about the ongoing care that HUP provided to the collapse patients.
In total, Penn Medicine responded to hundreds of media requests formore information on the collapse victims and trauma doctors participated inthree separate press briefings to best inform the public about the care thesevictims received.
In addition to the immediate response to these tragic events,trauma faculty at Penn are devoted to continuing research into the area ofinjury science to help better evaluate and treat trauma patients when they needmedical help. At a recent conference,faculty from the Division of Traumatology, Surgical Critical Care, and EmergencySurgery, and invited speakers from several other departments, divisions andinstitutes from across Penn Medicine, discussed a variety of topics andgroundbreaking research in the fields of emergency medicine, trauma andsurgical critical care.
“Traumaremains the leading cause of death and disability for people under the age of40, yet there is very little research directed toward understanding thepathophysiology of injury and the development of new resuscitation strategies,”said conference organizer Carrie Sims, MD, MS, assistant professor of Surgery. “Symposiums such as the injury research conference allows a variety ofdifferent investigators with very different approaches to come together - inthe process they realize that the research they are doing investigating diabetes,or platelet dysfunction, or immune function, also plays a part in understandinghow the body responds and recovers from injury.”
Simshopes that bringing together some of the brightest minds on the Penn's campusto discuss the science of injury opens the doors for new researchcollaborations that may one day lead to new therapies that save lives andimprove patient outcomes.
Whetherit’s through direct patient care during a crisis or facilitatingbench-to-bedside research, Penn trauma faculty are dedicated to the eliminationof needless death and disability from injury and bringing trauma care intofocus.