In Saskatoon, the Royal University Hospital Foundation (RUHF) provided $500,000 to pilot the Trauma Team program in 2015. As well, RUH Foundation’s current campaign to raise $5 million for the Legacy Fund for Trauma will support priorities such as Fellowships for sub-specialists, equipment, research and capital upgrades over the next 10 years to accelerate our Trauma Program at RUH. Thank you to RUH Foundation and their generous donors for making this program possible.
Dedicated trauma teams are making a difference in Saskatchewan’s busiest emergency rooms.
Since 2015, emergency departments in Saskatoon and Regina have been piloting dedicated trauma teams that respond to the care needs of severe trauma patients, such as victims of a high-impact motor vehicle collision, or a fall from a building. These are patients with significant injuries, needing medical care immediately.
The trauma team includes rosters of physician specialists, including surgeons and trauma-trained emergency room physicians known as Trauma Team Leads, who are on-call to address the care needs of severe trauma patients arriving at the hospital. Other healthcare providers and support personnel complete the team including nurses, respiratory therapists, X-ray technicians, phlebotomist (someone trained to draw blood), an ECG technician and a social worker, along with a unit assistant.
The team leaps into action when the hospital receives notification, either by ambulance or by a hospital in another part of the province, of a trauma patient heading their way.
Trauma Service Saskatoon team members include (from left): Frankie Affleck (Trauma Nurse Navigator), Lahoma Dill (Manager of Trauma Surgery), Cherie Kapell Brown (Director of inpatient surgical care, Trauma, Surgery 5A), and Dr. Niroshan Sothilingam (Medical Director of Trauma).
Some of the physician members of the Trauma Team include (from left): Dr. Anokhi Patel (Trauma Junior Resident) (R1 Anesthesia), Dr. Phil Davis (Trauma Team Leader), Dr. Stuart Netherton (Trauma Senior Resident) (R5Emergency).
“It could be the victim of a workplace accident, a family involved in a car crash, or a mass casualty situation, where there are a large number of patients expected in a short period of time,” explains Cherie Kapell Brown, Director of Inpatient Surgery and Trauma for Saskatoon for the Saskatchewan Health Authority. “When the notification comes in, this team is there to put all of their expertise and resources into these patients who, at this moment in time, need them more than anyone else.”
“We’re not doing anything incredibly different than we did before,” notes Rob Gentes, Executive Director of Practitioner Staff Affairs for Saskatchewan Health Authority. “We always had the team members available in the emergency department to deal with traumatic incidents; what the team does is formalize the structure and provide us with protocols. Most importantly, this gives us a staff leader present in the resuscitation bay, a skilled trauma physician on-call whose only job is trauma, and they respond immediately to any calls of a trauma coming in. And it means there is always a staff physician present to oversee care, properly supervise and teach trainees about optimal trauma care.”
Vanessa Cranford, Trauma Team Lead, and staff preparing for multidisciplinary patient and family rounds on the Trauma Burn Unit (TBU) at the Regina General Hospital in January.
It also formalizes the process for alerting hospitals in Saskatoon and Regina of incoming trauma patients. There are central phone numbers to alert the teams in Saskatoon or Regina of trauma patients needing care. The Trauma Team Leader triages these calls and categorizes them according to the severity of the trauma. Arrangements for patient transport is then arranged through the transport physician, emergency medical services, Saskatchewan Air Ambulance and/or STARS, and the referring physician is expected to have information about the patient at the ready to streamline the process.
Developing these trauma teams is a significant step in bringing Saskatchewan’s major hospitals to the highest standards of trauma care for our population. The teams also provide much-needed academic training in trauma care for resident physicians and assist with patient flow in the emergency room. Emergency department physicians can continue to dedicate their attention to the needs of other patients while the trauma team attends to complicated trauma cases that come in the door.
Regina and Saskatoon Trauma teams are also working in collaboration to develop the foundations of a provincial Trauma Program with a goal of improved integration, education, and performance monitoring across the Saskatchewan Health Authority.