New trauma care training gets patients to imaging tests quicker and also involves former trauma patients and families who provide feedback to caregivers.

When a trauma patient enters the emergency room, the medical team has what is known as the "golden hour," a window of time to evaluate and stabilize the patient to prevent death. To help trauma teams optimize that limited time frame, trauma surgeons have developed a simulation training program that cuts precious minutes off evaluation times and gets trauma patients to medical imaging tests faster, investigators reported at the 2015 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons.

"Identifying injuries and getting patients to treatment within the first hour after trauma can be the difference between life and death," said lead study author Andrea M. Long, MD, a clinical instructor and acute care surgery fellow at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C. "With simulation training, we were able to reduce the time for assessment of real trauma patients and get them to the CT scan quicker to evaluate for serious injuries."

Emergency room doctors and trauma surgeons developed the simulation sessions and conducted them along with other members of the emergency and trauma teams, including nurses, radiology technicians, respiratory therapists, and paramedics/emergency medical technicians. Simulation specialists helped design the scenarios and ran the patient simulator.

"This study actually started as a performance improvement project to reduce times to get patients to CT scan," Dr. Long said. "We then developed this project into a research study to evaluate exactly how our training impacted real patients in real trauma emergencies."

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