UMEM Educational Pearls - By Robert Flint

Category: Trauma

Title: Poster for hemorrhage control education

Posted: 12/11/2022 by Robert Flint, MD (Updated: 12/11/2023)
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         Whole Blood O+

         Activate mass transfusion





         Arterial Line

         Antibiotics( 2 grams cefazolin with first blood product, redoes 1 gram every 4th product)



         Treat hypocalcemia with CaCl2 (1 gram after every fourth product)

         Check ionized calcium after second dose of calcium



         Increase room tem to 80 F

         Warm blankets

         Warm blood products


IV Access

         Peripheral x2


         Central Line



         Hemostatic gauze


         Pelvic Binder



         Cryopercipitate (10 units if fibrinogen low)



         Call OR

         Hybrid Room

         Call anesthesia


         Call for Back up

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Category: Trauma

Title: Novel prompt for hemmoragic shock resuscitation

Keywords: simulation, trauma, exsanguination, TACTICS, mass transfusion (PubMed Search)

Posted: 12/9/2022 by Robert Flint, MD (Emailed: 12/11/2022) (Updated: 12/11/2022)
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This paper outlines a training course by Hartford Hospital for general surgery and emergency medicine residents. Their goal was to assess pre-and post-training effectiveness of hemorrhagic shock management in a simulation environment.  The training was on using a novel aid (TACTICS) to prompt the participants in appropriate care decisions involving patients with massive hemorrhage.

The bottom line is having a poster in the resuscitation bay helped the health care providers manage hemorrhagic shock patients. Visual prompts work, especially for new and learning physicians.


Please click below to see their fantastic poster.

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In follow-up to last week’s pearl regarding the inequitable distribution of trauma care, there were a few more thoughts:

1.     A huge shout out to those ED physicians working in critical access facilities without surgical back up, access to specialists, and who are regularly struggling to get their patients transferred to trauma centers to receive the care they need.

2.     All centers, big and small, are struggling with crowding, staffing, and patient flow. It is critical to the entire system that these issues get addressed. They need to be addressed at a system level by all stake holders. Smaller EDs, critical access EDs, or Level 2 and 3 centers holding patients that need to be transferred has a deleterious effect not only on that individual patient, but the patients that can’t be seen while the most critically ill are being attended to.

3.     Hospital administrators, medical directors, national organizations, department leaders, and each of us in the trenches owe it to our communities and patients to get involved in fixing the problems. These issues are best addressed by a meeting of stake holders than by an overwhelmed ED provider at 2 am desperately trying to do the right thing for their patient.

4.     The best systems have:

a.     ongoing education for EMS providers, hospital providers, nurses and the general public,

b.     pre-hospital protocols regarding trauma patients,

c.      a timely means to get patients to the correct facility,

d.     injury prevention programs,

e.     post-acute care rehabilitation services, and

f.      family support services in place.

5.     Those with well-functioning systems, please publish your results and the steps you have taken to become well-functioning. We need leadership. We do not need to reinvent the wheel. Please take an active role in lifting the less functional systems to your level.

6.     Those that are struggling, ask for help! Also publish your efforts, your struggles, and your needs.


For those interested in a deeper dive into where we have come from and the concept of trauma systems, please read the attached reference. This is a call to all that care for the critically ill to work to improve our stressed system, publish your work so we ca all learn and to advocate and lobby for your patients.

This pearl's author is open to comments, criticism, concerns and questions. 

Back to clinical pearls next week.



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Category: Trauma

Title: Trauma Center Accessibility

Keywords: level I, Level II, Level III, Trauma Center, Accessibility (PubMed Search)

Posted: 11/5/2022 by Robert Flint, MD (Emailed: 11/27/2022) (Updated: 11/26/2022)
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This study found that 22% of Americans do not have access to a trauma center within 60 minutes. Eight percent of the population relied on Level III centers.  Not unexpectantly, Black and Native Americans were overly represented in the group receiveing care at Level III centers. White and Native Americans were over represented in the group without access to trauma care within 60 minutes. Most disappointing of all, none of this has changed since 2010. Some states have a robust trauma network, while others need to evaluate their needs and potentially add Level III centers to cut down the time to trauma care.  What is your area's trauma coverage and what level?

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Category: Trauma

Title: A new approach to penetrating neck injuries?

Posted: 11/18/2022 by Robert Flint, MD (Emailed: 11/20/2022) (Updated: 12/11/2023)
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This small study looked at patients with penetrating neck injuries and tried to determine in those with "hard signs" of injury (hemorrhage, expanding hematoma, or ischemia)  if they required immediate operative managment.  The authors concluded:

"Although hard signs in PCVIs are associated with the need for operative intervention, initial CT imaging can facilitate endovascular options or nonoperative management in a significant subgroup. Hard signs should not be considered an absolute indication for immediate surgical exploration."

This is a small study and it is unclear why some patients went to CT vs directly to the operating room. This may not be a practice changing study, but it may validate provider gestalt of CT vs direct to operating room. We can add this to the growing body of evidence that CT scanning in penetrating trauma can be used to diffrentiate who needs emergent operative intervention vs. endovascular therapy vs close observation. This study certainly opens the door for further reaserch in the area of management of penetratign neck injuries. 

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Category: Trauma

Title: Pelvic Radiographs Utility in Elderly Fall Patients

Keywords: trauma, elderly, pelvic fracture, plain radiographs (PubMed Search)

Posted: 10/28/2022 by Robert Flint, MD (Emailed: 11/6/2022)
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This retrospective study compared plain radiographs to CT scan for the detection of pelvic fractures in patients over 65 years of age. The authors concluded “Pelvic radiographs have low sensitivity in detecting traumatic pelvic fractures. These radiographically occult fractures may be clinically significant as a cause of long-term pain and may require orthopedic consultation and possible surgical management.”

If you have a high clinical suspicion due to pain or inability to ambulate, CT may be warranted if the X-Ray is negative. 


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Category: Trauma

Title: Can you discharge a patient with seat belt sign?

Keywords: abdominal trauma, seat belt sign, Ct scan, discharge, hollow vicsus injury (PubMed Search)

Posted: 10/28/2022 by Robert Flint, MD (Emailed: 10/30/2022) (Updated: 10/30/2022)
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Traditional trauma teaching is to admit trauma patients with abdominal wall ecchymosis caused by seat belts (seat belt sign) for fear of missing a hollow viscus injury leading to peritonitis and sepsis.  

Over the past few years there have been studies pointing toward the safety of discharging blunt abdominal trauma patients with a negative CT even if they do have a seat belt sign.

In this most recent study, a negative CT was defined as 

1. No free fluid (free fluid was the leading indicator of occult hollow viscus injury)

2. No solid organ injury

3. No bowel wall irregular contours, thickening, hematoma or air

4. No abdominal wall soft tissue contusion

5. No mesenteric stranding or hematoma

6. No bowel dilatation

If the patient’s CT did not include any of these findings, there was a 0.01% chance of finding a delayed hollow viscus injury. The authors conclude it is safe to discharge patients meeting these criteria. 

If we include no rebound or guarding on physical exam along with a negative CT scan, it appears to be safe to discharge trauma patient’s with seat belt sign.


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Category: Trauma

Title: Is obesity a protection in penetrating trauma?

Keywords: penetrating trauma, trauma, obesity, armour phenomenon (PubMed Search)

Posted: 10/12/2022 by Robert Flint, MD (Emailed: 10/23/2022) (Updated: 12/11/2023)
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This meta-analyisis looked at whether obesity was a protective factor for penetrating trauma (the armour phenomenon). The authors concluded that insteaed of being protective, obesity added to morbidity and mortality.

"Obese patients that sustained stab injuries underwent more nontherapeutic operations. Obese patients that sustained gunshot injuries had longer intensive care and total hospital length of stay. Obese patients suffered more respiratory complications and were at an increased risk of death during their admission."

Further evidence that obesity is a major health concern in both medical and trauma pateints. 

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Category: Trauma

Title: Comparing police vs. ALS transport in penetrating trauma pateints

Keywords: trauma, transport, police, ALS, penetrating trauma, rapid transport, prehospital, EMS (PubMed Search)

Posted: 10/12/2022 by Robert Flint, MD (Emailed: 10/16/2022) (Updated: 10/16/2022)
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In this prospective, observational study performed at 25 urban trauma centers, police transport (18%) was compared to Advanced Life Support (ALS) transport (81%) for mortality in penetrating trauma patients with an injury severity score over 16. There was no difference in outcome for those transported by ALS.

The authors conclude "Police transport of penetrating trauma patients in urban locations results in similar outcomes compared with ALS. Immediate transport to definitive trauma care should be emphasized in this patient population."

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Category: Trauma

Title: Use of shock index in trauma patients

Keywords: Shock, Shock index, trauma, mass transfusion, mortality, geriatric trauma (PubMed Search)

Posted: 10/9/2022 by Robert Flint, MD
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The use of the shock index (systolic blood pressure/heart rate) value under 0.9 has been shown to be effective in predicting the need for mass blood transfusion as well as mortality for trauma patients age 16-64. Using age times shock index has been shown to be an effective marker of mortality and the need for transfer/transport to a trauma center in those over age 65. The change in shock index over time is also useful for pre-hospital providers deciding the appropriate destination for traumatically injured individuals. 


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Category: Trauma

Title: Whole Blood vs Blood products in trauma resuscitation

Keywords: trauma, whole blood, blood products, resucitation (PubMed Search)

Posted: 10/2/2022 by Robert Flint, MD (Updated: 12/11/2023)
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A fourteen center study enrolling 1623 trauma patients (53% penetrating) comparing cold-stored whole blood vs. blood component products found no difference in AKI, thromboembolism, or pulmonary complications. And more interestingly, patients receiving whole blood were 48% less likely to die than those receiving standard blood component products. Add this data point to a growing trend toward cold-stored whole blood for trauma patients.

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Category: Airway Management

Title: Decompression of Traumatic Tension Pneumothorax

Keywords: trauma, PTX, finger thoracostomy, needle decompression, 2nd intercostal space, 5th intercostal space, pneumothorax (PubMed Search)

Posted: 9/25/2022 by Robert Flint, MD (Updated: 12/11/2023)
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Finger thoracostomy is superior to needle decompression in the fifth mid-axiallary intercostal space which is superior to the traditionally taught needle decompression in the second mid-clavicular intercostal space for traumatic tension pneumothorax/trauamtic arrest.

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Category: Trauma

Title: Managing the Airway in Trauma Patients

Keywords: Trauma, Airway Management, Resuscitation (PubMed Search)

Posted: 9/18/2022 by Robert Flint, MD
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Manageing the airway of a trauma patient presents difficulties because of both anatomic and physiologic derangement. 

The Bottom Line: Trauma patients requiring intubation are a challenge and should be managed by the most expereinced person in the room. No study shows superiority of direct laryngoscopy. Use the technique you are most facile with and develop more techniques through courses, mentoring, and expanding your repertoire in less ill patients first. Use induction agents with lower liklelihood of causing hypotension like Etomidate and ketamine (avoid propofol and benzodiazepenes). Avoid hypoxia, hypotension and hypocarbia by resucitating as much as possible prior to intubation (use blood products and pressors where appropriate). Have a plan, a back up plan, and know when to switch to a surgical airway approach. This ia a low frequency, high risk proceedure. Mentally visualize yourself doing this proceedure regualrly to create a comfort level when it is actually needed. 


1. Blood/Emesis  A. Use a double suction set up with one suction placed into the airway near the esophagus and then moved to the left of the mouth with the second used by the intubator to clear their view. 

B. If you can't visualize becaue of vomit/emesis it is very likely BVM and super glotic airways are not going to be possible and you will need to move to a surgical (front of neck) airway.

2. Limited Jaw Opening  Cervical collars can impede jaw opening. Loosen/open the collar to allow more jaw opening. Studies show that there is limited movement of C-Spine when the intubator uses caution not to flex the neck during intubation meaning the collar does not have to be in place. No study shows diret or video laryngoscopy to be superior. 

3. Blunt or penetrating neck injury Highest level of difficulty. Should be most expereienced intubator. Can use an awake intubation technique if you are adept at this method. Go with the airway approach that gives YOU the best first pass success chance. Another situation where BVM or suprglotic airway device may not work and requires surgical airway. May require low tracheostomy approach. 

4. Hypoxia  Avoiding hypoxia is a must especially in traumatic brain injured patients. Pre-oxygenate and use the airway technique that is going to give you the best first past chance of success.

5. Hypotension:  A. Resuscitate with blood products as much as possible before intubation. B. Use induction agents that are the most hemodynamically neutral such as Etomidate or Ketamine (safe in head injury patients!)

6.. Hypocarbia: Congrats on getting the tube! Now slow down your bagging. Hypocarbia leads to increased injury in traumatic brain injured patients. 

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Category: Trauma

Title: Injury score comparable geriatric vs non-geriatric patients: Over 65 years do much worse

Keywords: geriatric, trauma, orthopedic injury, injury severity score (PubMed Search)

Posted: 11/5/2022 by Robert Flint, MD (Emailed: 12/11/2023) (Updated: 12/9/2022)
Click here to contact Robert Flint, MD

Trauma patients over age 65 should be cared for by a multidisciplinary trauma team. Here is another study affirming that patients over age 65 do worse when having similar injuries to those under 65. Interestingly, those under 65 had more operative repairs of their orthopedic injuries as well.  

The authors conclude: “Although the ISS and NISS were similar, mortality was significantly higher among patients aged ≥ 65 years compared to patients < 65 years of age”.

 Also it bears further investigation of why those under 65 received more operative repairs


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