Inside Emergency Ward Where Every Seconds Count: The Crucial Role of Critical Care in Trauma Patients' Survival

Expert Insights on Saving Lives: Exploring the Life-Saving Interventions of Trauma Critical Care Teams.

Written By Satata Karmakar | Published : December 3, 2023 5:16 PM IST

When Seconds Count: The Crucial Role of Critical Care in Trauma Patients' Survival

Accidents and injuries can happen to anyone, anytime, and anywhere. Whether it's a car crash, a domestic fall, or a sports-related injury, traumatic events can lead to life-threatening situations. The most common causes of death from trauma are hemorrhage, multiple organ dysfunction, and cardiopulmonary arrest. In such a critical situation, immediate medical attention and critical care become indispensable. Critical care plays an important role in trauma cases, and understanding its importance can make a significant difference in a patient's chances of recovery and survival. In this article, we will explore the significance of the Critical care team in the management of trauma cases in simple terms.

In an exclusive interview with, Dr. Bhushan Nagarkar, Consultant - Critical Care, Manipal Hospitals, Baner Pune, says that in medical terminologies, trauma refers to physical injuries or wounds caused by accidents or violence. It can range from minor cuts or bruises to severe injuries that affect vital organs. Trauma cases are typically divided into two categories: blunt trauma and penetrating trauma.


Blunt Trauma

This type of trauma occurs when an object or force impacts the body's surface without penetrating it. Examples include falls, collisions or blows with blunt objects.

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Penetrating Trauma

It occurs when foreign objects penetrate the skin and enter inside the body, causing injury. Stab wounds and gunshot wounds are common examples of penetrating trauma.


The Role of Critical Care

Immediate Stabilization: In many trauma cases, the immediate goal is to quickly assess and stabilize the patient by primary survey. Critical care teams consisting of intensivists, Emergency physicians, and Surgeons are involved in patient care. The first thing is to ensure that the patient's airway is clear and that breathing and circulation are maintained. This initial stabilization is crucial in preventing further harm and improving the patient's chances of survival.

Monitoring Vital Signs: Trauma patients often require continuous monitoring of their vital signs, including heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels. Critical care specialists can quickly detect any deterioration in these vital signs and take the necessary actions to address it. Bleeding may be external or internal and can cause a profound drop in blood pressure, early detection and prompt resuscitation are of vital importance to prevent a further drop in blood pressure and organ damage.

  1. Pain Management: Trauma can be excruciatingly painful. Critical care teams are trained to provide pain relief and manage the patient's discomfort while addressing the underlying injuries.
  2. Assessment and Diagnosis: A thorough evaluation of the patient's injuries is essential in trauma cases. Critical care specialists use various diagnostic tools, such as X-rays, USG, and CT scans, to assess the extent of the injuries and plan appropriate interventions. Secondary and tertiary surveys are done by critical care doctors to pick up missed injuries and appropriate interventions as needed.
  3. Surgical Intervention: In severe trauma cases, surgery may be necessary to repair internal injuries or remove foreign objects. Critical care teams work closely with surgeons to ensure that the patient receives the necessary surgical procedures promptly.
  4. Preventing Complications: Trauma patients are at risk of developing complications, such as infections or organ failure. Critical care specialists are trained to identify and treat these complications, improving the patient's overall prognosis.
  5. Rehabilitation and Recovery: After the initial critical care phase, patients may require ongoing care and rehabilitation to fully recover. Critical care teams play a role in coordinating this transition and ensuring that patients receive the necessary rehabilitation services.

Trauma cases can be life-threatening and devastating, but the timely and skillful application of critical care management can make all the difference.

Critical care specialists play a crucial role in stabilizing patients, diagnosing injuries, preventing complications, and facilitating recovery. Their expertise ensures that trauma patients receive the best possible care in their most vulnerable moments.

Standard timely trauma care, early imaging, and protocolized treatment pathways will result in substantial improvements in outcomes of trauma patients.

Best outcomes are seen in patients with severe traumatic injuries when treated at a tertiary trauma center which has round-the-clock availability of specialist doctors (Critical care physician, ER physician, Surgeons), imaging services (USG, CT scan, MRI), emergency operation theatre, and blood bank.