Medics undergo vital trauma training in King's Lynn hospital programme
Medics at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital have been refreshing their skills for dealing with trauma injuries.
Each year up to 240 patients are treated in the hospital’s emergency department with serious injuries which most commonly have been sustained in falls or road crashes.
Officials say falls are the most common cause of life-changing injuries among patients in West Norfolk.
And scores of clinical staff have taken part in a two-day Advanced Trauma Life Support (ALTS) course to learn and practise up-to-date techniques for treating emergency patients.
The hospital has been running the course, on behalf of the Royal College of Surgeons, for the last six years – both to give staff the chance to practise their skills and also help them to deal with rare injuries.
Volunteers had make-up applied to make them look like genuine patients for participants to work on.
Course leader Dr Alistair Steel, who is a consultant anaesthetist, said: “We see between 50 and 100 people each year who have very severe traumatic injuries, so courses like this are really important in not only helping our doctors remain up-to-date but also have the confidence in applying these skills.
“This is the sixth year we have run the course as we are always looking for ways to improve trauma care within the QEH.
“The commonest cause of major trauma in the UK is falls, but at the QEH we care for all sorts of trauma patients, including road traffic collisions, assaults, sports injuries and boating accidents.
“Broken limbs and rib fractures commonly result from these incidents but we also see a significant number of patients every year with brain, chest or abdominal injuries.
“Rarely this even means our teams are having to perform emergency heart surgery.
“Any patient can came through the front doors, and without a moment’s notice, which is why courses like ATLS are so important.”
One of the main issues from the latest course was new guidance relating to blood loss and transfusions.
Dr Steel said: “Traditionally, with blood transfusions and massive bleeding management, the treatment was to use just red blood cells.
“We now know that there are many important components of blood besides the red cells which are vital for clots to form to stop bleeding, so we now emphasise the need for plasma and platelet transfusions in addition to the red cells.”
He added: “Much of this new knowledge has been learnt for military practise and courses like ATLS help ensure this knowledge is shared widely throughout the UK.
“We are trained to be sparing with blood stocks as we are mindful that it is a scarce resource and we now have better knowledge on how bleeding stops.”