Trauma centres best placed to save lives of road accident victims, says Canadian research

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Researchers in Toronto have found that road accident victims have a 30% better chance of survival if they are taken straight to a fully-accredited trauma centre.

Trauma centre hospital

Dr Avery Nathens, trauma director at the Canadian city's St. Michael's Hospital, said that fewer than 50% of people badly injured in road accidents in Ontario are taken directly from the accident scene to a trauma centre.

In addition, only half of those taken to the nearest hospital are later transferred to a trauma centre after being examined and stabilised.

"Minutes matter and severely injured patients can't advocate for themselves so we have the responsibility to ensure that the system works optimally," Dr Nathens said.

A trauma centre is a hospital staffed 24 hours a day by specially trained trauma personnel, who can treat severely injured patients without delay. As well as the staff, higher-level trauma centres offer state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment to provide specialist emergency care.

Of over 6,000 Ontario road accidents between 2002 and 2010 considered by Dr Nathens and his team, 45% were taken directly from the accident scene to a trauma centre. Of patients who were taken first to a non-trauma centre, only 57% went to a trauma centre afterwards.

Dr Nathens stressed the importance of emergency doctors at non-trauma centres spotting the potential severity of patients' injuries and transferring them to trauma centres as early as possible.

He added that his findings prove that all health care workers and physicians must be trained to recognise who needs to be treated at a trauma centre, and that resources must be in place to transport such patients quickly. This advice applies to serious road accidents in other countries as well eg United Kingdom.


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