JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Principles of prehospital care of musculoskeletal injuries

R A Worsing
Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America 1984, 2 (2): 205-17
6394300
Prehospital management of musculoskeletal injuries in the traumatized patient is based on the application of a few basic principles in an orderly but expeditious manner. The patient must be assessed for immediate life-threatening conditions involving airway, respiratory, and circulatory functions while the cervical spine is protected. Resuscitative efforts to reestablish and preserve an adequate circulating volume of oxygenated blood must follow, using airways, oxygen therapy, and fluid replacement through MAST trousers and intravenous fluids. Cardiac function must be maintained as well. Respiratory function must be monitored and assisted as required. Finally, neurologic status must be assessed and monitored. Secondary assessment of all pertinent history and physical findings is made to delineate all other injuries that do not pose an immediate threat to the life or limb of the patient. Definitive care follows but is limited to basic resuscitation, stabilization, and immobilization techniques under medical control through telemetry and radio communication. Immediate definitive care of the traumatized patient requires the expeditious intervention of the trauma team in a hospital setting with surgical, blood banking, radiographic, laboratory, and other hospital-based capabilities available. Field management of the traumatized patient is directed at the expeditious delivery of the viable patient to the trauma team. In the multiply traumatized patient with severe injuries to several organ systems, prehospital care may need to be expedited to provide this patient the in-hospital care required to save his or her life. Appropriate treatment in such life-threatening trauma situations will consist of a rapid primary assessment, airway and cervical spine control, appropriate respiratory and cardiovascular assistance, gross whole body fracture immobilization using a backboard, and immediate transport. For less severely injured patients, primary assessment, resuscitation, stabilization, full secondary assessment, initial definitive care, and immobilization should be completed before transport begins.

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