Role of the physician in prehospital management of trauma: European perspective

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Advanced prehospital trauma life support is challenged as a whole. Formerly well-accepted basic principles for stabilizing vital functions of the severely injured patient like volume resuscitation, airway protection, and immobilization have been questioned. In prehospital management of trauma, the role of not only the physician but also the paramedic must be redefined. In the absence of evidence about the effectiveness of advanced trauma life support training for paramedic crews, the needs of trauma victims and capacities of emergency medical systems must be re-evaluated. Assessment of patients' conditions, including mechanism of trauma (blunt vs penetrating), source of hypovolemic shock (controlled vs ongoing hemorrhage), concomitant disease (as in elderly patients), and identification of therapeutic goals (such as for cerebral perfusion pressure or secondary brain damage caused by hypoxia in severe head injury), is a subject of increasing importance. Invasive airway management techniques require skills, expertise, and daily routines available only to experienced in-hospital personnel. The controversial issue of paramedic vs physician-based systems should be abandoned. It is the skill, the technique, the awareness of pitfalls, and the capability to handle complications that makes the difference, not the person in possession of the skill.

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