Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

The Bird is the Word – Coma Toast

At Coma Toast, there is a thorough thrashing of the EMS addiction to flying uninjured patients just because we can. The Bird is the Word.

Now, there are a lot of arguments out there about the use of medical helicopters. It’s in the dispatch criteria….it’s in the protocols…..patients can get to the hospital faster. However, most of these arguments can be debunked by actually looking at patient statistics of those transported by ground ambulances verses those who were flown.

Another problem with helicopter abuse, perhaps the most deadly abuse of the helicopter, is to excuse the employment of medics and basic EMTs who cannot competently assess patients.

We don’t need to know what is going on – just put them in a helicopter.

We don’t need to be able to treat patients – we only need to be able to immobilize, get 2 large bore IVs, and hook up the ECG before the helicopter arrives. And don’t forget the non-rebreather mask with 25 liters per minute of oxygen flow.

Why think about patient care, when we have already decided what we are going to do to the patient – before we even see the patient?

We say – Look! The patient we flew the day before yesterday is driving a new car today. The helicopter saved him! We are so awesome!

No.

We should hang our heads in shame at flying uninjured people.

If we overloaded the cath lab with patients who do not have STEMIs, we would be the laughing stocks of EMS.

But put a patient with a bruised fender and a mangled bumper in a helicopter and nobody will criticize a thing.

A large percentage of the people we inflict perform needle decompression on, do not have even simple pneumothoraces, yet we treat them for life threatening tension pneumothoraces. We even document the rush of air escaping from the needle that never even reached the lung.

The needle wasn’t in the lung, so where did the air come from? A brain fart?

We immobilize even the witnesses to car crashes, because we are that bad at assessment.

We do a pathetic job of educating people to perform trauma assessment (of patients – not cars) and we do not remediate those who regularly demonstrate incompetence at trauma assessment. Maybe we need a White Paper on the abuse of patients by EMS.

We justify these treatment errors that injure and kill patients with, You can’t be too safe!

Injuring patients with incompetence is safe?

Killing patients with incompetence is safe?

Compared to what?

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Comments

  1. What? You mean oxygen doesn’t cure all ills? The way it seems the vast majority of ALL EMS responders must think is that it’s better to give oxygen than to just transport. And god forbid you don’t have a pulse ox. But want to call HEMS for the cool pins and a nice hat? You’re a hero. So, go ahead and do us a favor and get some docs with you to replace the registry and possibly the joint while you’re at it.

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  2. […] 04 Oct 2010 20:11:45 +0000 By Rogue Medic Leave a Comment There is a nice sarcastic comment to The Bird is the Word – Coma Toast by Can’t say, clowns will eat me – What? You mean oxygen doesn’t cure all […]

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