Five assessment tips to better trauma assessments
Traumatic injuries to the face, to the head, or open injuries to the chest, abdomen and to the extremities can certainly be distracting to your assessment. Being distracted by The devastating injury or injury pattern is a natural, human response. The paramedic cannot be fooled, no matter how devastating these injuries may appear, that they are the only injuries or the most serious injuries the patient has. The point is that no matter what is ripped open, sticking out of, or impaled into the patient, the paramedic must fully assess the patient, mechanism of injury, and the surroundings. Bottom Line - You can be distracted...just don’t be fooled: as long as momentary distraction does not lead to being fooled by a nasty looking, less serious injury
Tip #2: What lies beneath? Anatomy!
Understanding of anatomy in relation to injuries, injury patterns and mechanism of injury. It’s not enough to simply observe and injury from the surface. The paramedic must understand the implication of that injury on the tissues, structures and, organs that lay beneath. What appears to be a superficial soft tissue injury on the outside can have substantial structural/organ injury underneath. Only by possessing a solid foundational understanding of anatomy will the paramedic be able to relate exterior body damage to where the true injury is… that is to the structure, organ, or system that’s impacted by the trauma. Bottom Line: Think about what lies beneath...Anatomy lies beneath and your understanding of anatomy will lead to better treatment.
Tip #3: Assess all critical areas...even if they're not injured.
Tip #4: Change you view...you'll get a better look!
We too often assess trauma patients while they’re supine starring straight down on them. After all, that's how you were doing it in practice in EMT class...To be effective, change your point of view. Get down on the patients level and examine from the side, survey the patient from a short distance, observe a few breaths while kneeling at the patients feet or head. Bottom Line: Change your view...move around and look at the patient from various views and from a distance...get as much of the picture as you can before you leave...you're the only one who is going to be able to do this!