Trauma patients could soon be taken straight from an ambulance to a CT scanner, bypassing Accident and Emergency to ensure rapid diagnosis and treatment.
Trauma patients are being taken straight to a CT scanner, bypassing A&E
King’s College Hospital, one of four major dedicated trauma centres in London, is pioneering the use of rapid CT scans to save the lives of seriously injured patients.
Normally a patient is taken to Accident and Emergency first, assessed and stabilised and then taken to a CT scanner in another part of the hospital. This process can take up to half an hour.
But in the trial at King’s College Hospital, trauma patients are being taken straight from the ambulance to be scanned.
The new CT scanner is built into a room next to the emergency department, which is fitted with the same equipment as a typical Accident and Emergency bay so doctors can resuscitate patients without moving them. Doctors and nurses step out for 10 seconds whilst the scan takes place.
A computed tomography (CT) scan combines x-ray images taken from different angles to build a 3D view of inside the body. It is much more precise than a bedside x-ray machine, and images are available almost instantly.
Doctors hope the detailed images of the inside of a patient will help them pick the correct treatment more quickly. Dr Tom Best, consultant in intensive care, told the BBC: "No-one has done it this way before.
"The thing about trauma is that it's all about speed, particularly in brain injury. Every minute of delay affects how bad the brain injury will be later. The key to managing trauma is rapid diagnosis and the key to diagnosis is the CT scan.
"The sooner you get that scan, the sooner you can stop the bleeding, the more likely you're going to save that patient's life."
About 20 patients have been treated this way so far, all of whom were seriously injured and would have needed a CT scan anyway.
Mr Rob Bentley, director of trauma at the hospital, said: "We already know that patients have a better chance of survival - and a higher quality of life after an accident - if they are brought to a major trauma centre.”
"However, by taking patients straight to the CT scanner, we may be able to improve the service even further."
Private medical insurance is not designed to cover emergency treatment. If you require emergency care, you will be treated in Accident and Emergency on the NHS as usual. But a private medical insurance policy will ensure you receive continued care in a private hospital after you are stabilised.
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