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Trauma can lead to disability or death

April 05, 2004|by Christine L. Moats

Care of the injured patient has been part of the practice of medicine from the beginnings of recorded history. The word trauma was derived from the Greek meaning bodily injury. Homer's "The Iliad" refers to a "remover of arrows." The lessons learned in military conflicts have greatly advanced our knowledge of the care of an injured patient.

Today, trauma is defined as injury to the body's tissues that is beyond the body's ability to tolerate.

Trauma is the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States, and the leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 1 and 44. There are more than 150,000 trauma-related deaths in the United States annually. For each death, two to three additional patients are permanently disabled. Injuries account for 36.9 million visits to emergency departments annually in the United States.

According to Joan Fortney, manager of trauma and emergency medical services at Washington County Hospital, more than 800 people each year are treated for major injuries at Washington County Hospital with 63 percent of those requiring admission.

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"Only 4 percent of trauma patients treated at Washington County Hospital require a transfer to another hospital for a higher level of care," Fortney said.

Injuries are caused by such events as motor vehicle crashes, falls, poisonings, fires and burns, drowning, firearm incidents and machinery incidents.

The term "accident" is becoming obsolete, since it means without intent or by chance. Fortney said a considerable number of injuries do not happen by chance and can be prevented.

Trauma will be a continuing topic of this column for the next three Mondays with more information on types of injuries, prevention and treatment.




Christine L. Moats is a wellness coordinator at Washington County Hospital.

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