Polytrauma for Team Communication

This case is written by Dr. Chris Heyd. He is a PGY4 Emergency Medicine resident at McMaster University and has spent the last year completing a sub-specialty focus in disaster medicine and simulation. He is also one of our resident editors here at EmSimCases.

Why it Matters

This case highlights some of the challenges that can be associated with activating a trauma team. While the intent is to have many expert hands available to help at once, sometimes the team members arrive in a staggered fashion. This case reviews:

  • The challenges of managing an unstable trauma patient when there are interruptions to the flow of communication
  • The need to expediently place a chest tube in a hypoxic trauma patient
  • The fact that near simultaneous intubation and chest tube placement is often necessary in an unstable trauma patient

Clinical Vignette

To be read aloud by simulation facilitator at start of case:

“You are working as an Emergency physician at a tertiary care trauma centre and have been called overhead to your trauma bay. A paramedic team has just arrived with a 64-year old trauma patient. He was involved in a highway speed head-on MVC. He was restrained and air bags deployed. He was the driver and the other drive died on scene. There were no other passengers. EMS extricated the patient easily. They have placed one IV line and started running normal saline. He has been placed on a non-rebreather mask but has remained tachycardic, hypoxic and altered. GCS has been consistently 14. The trauma team was activated based on injury mechanism but so far only the orthopedic resident has arrived at the bedside.”

Case Summary

A 64-year old man is involved in a high-speed car crash. The trauma team is activated and he is brought directly to the ED. On arrival, he is hypoxic, tachycardic and altered. CXR reveals multiple rib fractures with a right-sided hemopneumothorax.

The team leader will need to effectively communicate with the team to ensure the tasks of intubation, chest tube placement and blood product administration are performed in a safe and quickly. The patient will stabilize after these treatments.

Members of the trauma team will have a staggered entry into the room. The team leader will need to balance communication with the new team members and the urgent interventions needed by the patient.

Download the case here: Polytrauma for Team Communication

CXR for the case found here:

CXR trauma

(CXR source: https://radiopaedia.org/cases/large-traumatic-haemothorax)

PXR for the case found here:

Normal PXR

(PXR source: https://radiopaedia.org/cases/normal-pelvis-x-ray-trauma-supine-1)

Lung U/S showing hemothorax found here:

 

(U/S source: McMaster PoCUS Subspecialty Training Program)

Normal RUQ FAST image found here:

no FF

(U/S source: McMaster PoCUS Subspecialty Training Program)

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