Saturday, October 14, 2006

Wet Roads, Traumas Arrive

I saw and participated in one of my first major traumas today. It was not a very uplifting experience.

The hospital I'm at for my clinicals is pretty small and most major traumas are automatically sent to Flagstaff or Phoenix since both cities have hospitals that are rated Trauma 1. But today they sent us one for reasons unknown to me.

It was an 18 year old man who had been in an MVA. The poor kid had hydroplaned on some wet asphalt slid off the road and was ejected from the car. He had head, neck and abdominal trauma and was in pretty bad shape. They called us for a stat portable chest and pelvis x-ray and would later do a CT scan of the head and neck areas.

It was amazing to watch the docs and nurses swarm around him, all of them doing their jobs with infinite efficiency. I attempted to do my part, namely x-raying the patient's chest and pelvis, in as timely manner as possible.

Upon visual inspection it was clear the kid was in pretty bad shape and once we got the CT scan there was no denying his condition. The head trauma he had sustained had caused a massive bleed in his brain and he was more than likely brain dead already.

At this point they transfered him to Flagstaff since my hospital doesn't have a very advanced neurology dept. The news of his condition hit me harder than I would have expected. I thought about how his family's life would be forever changed by the events of that day. I did my best to continue on during the day, x-raying patients and keeping a cheery demeanor with them. But I kept thinking about when the doctor would finally have to break the news to the kid's family that he was almost certainly brain dead and would most likely not survive for many more hours. How would I react if I were given the same news about my brother, mother or wife? There is no way to know how one will react until one is put into that situation and with any luck I will never have to find out how I would respond.


Eve C. said...

Oh man, this sucks! A mutual friend's sister just died in an auto accident from this same thing. On our way back from Denver, my father-in-law was driving during a rainstorm and I was stunned when I saw him fiddling with the cruise control buttons!!!! Can you believe that? What is worse is I didn't say anything to him. I reminded my husband (loudly) about the danger of this and he just nodded! So, I readjusted the straps on my children's car seats, made sure the seatbelts were on tight and securely and whimped out by going to sleep after a prayer! Whew!

Dustin said...

Yeah driving in bad conditions can be scarey. Most of the traumas we get at the hospital are MVAs or ATV accidents. I do a lot of driving so I am extra careful. One huge concern when driving around Flagstaff are elk crossing the road. These animals are huge (about the weight of a cow) and if you hit one at highway speeds, the result is not good, for the driver or the elk.

So be careful out there.

Mary said...

Those are the hard ones. You just have to do your job and keep going. I don't think it's bad at all that it touched you/has stuck with you. That's the whole human compassion thing...

The newspaper reported that the grandma who was babysitting a 15 month old who drowned, was arrested for child neglect and manslaughter. Even though that happened a couple of months ago, I still remember what she looked liked, and it feels like it just happened. (we had to do a skeletal survery to rule out NAT).

Luckily we don't get very many cases like that, I'd rather have a gradual introduction to hard situations, than being thrust in to them hard and fast.

Lisa & Adam said...

Hi there - I haven't read your blog for ages! Glad to see that your clinicals are going well. Well done on the site - it's well written and very informative - keep it up!