“I think of trauma as a stool with three legs,” said Karl Bergmann, MD, orthopedic trauma surgeon and physician chair at CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center - Bergan Mercy.
Trauma surgeons care for critical chest and abdominal injuries.
Neurosurgeons take on critical head injuries.
Orthopedic trauma specialists handle extremity injuries.
“Realistically, trauma surgeons overlap ortho and neuro as they are the primary team and must know what we need to do to get the trauma patient ready for any intervention that may be necessary,” Dr. Bergmann said. “In addition, we have support from vascular surgeons.”
Pelvic fractures, for example, occur from direct or blunt trauma. “Initially, you have to look for chest and abdomen injuries,” Dr. Bergmann said.
Ongoing blood loss can be a common and serious complication because it causes death from exsanguination.
“Trauma has a massive transfusion protocol in place to decrease the risk of death from ongoing bleeding,” Dr. Bergmann said.
Coordination among the different specialists is essential.
“Some care needs to be done quickly and some needs to be held off depending upon the condition of the trauma patient,” Dr. Bergmann said. “So we need a strong trauma team to optimize the patient and to let us know when we can intervene for definitive care.”