This essay is not intended to criticize any emergency medical or hospital staff. I am writing this essay out of concern for patients who come into the emergency room that may have a jeopardized spinal cord resulting from an injury or suspected injury to their cervical spine. I am a certified emergency medical technician, farm-medic instructor and currently a medical diagnostic student doing clinicial's. In the United States each year there are approximately 10,000 reported cervical spine injuries that come into emergency rooms. Motor vehicle accidents account for approximately 45%, falls approximately 30%, the remaining 25% from sports and miscellaneous. Although only a small amount of these spinal injuries are life threatening, they all need to be treated as such. Survival of these patients depends on pre-hospital care, emergency room care and quality diagnostic radiographs, all done at times under extreme time restraints and pressure.
The number one goal in patient care is not to make any situation worse than it already is. Most pre-hospital care is usually done by emergency medical technicians. Their main concern is to assess, stabilize and transport the patient to a facility that can give additional care and treatment. The emergency room staff is the second step to the patient’s survival. Their duties include further stabilization, evaluation and treatment of the patients’ injuries. Radiographers are to supply ER doctors with quality diagnostic X-rays so they can make informed decisions about further patient care. Each of these groups need to be aware of what is involved with the other’s job, so that the patient will receive the best of care.
Emergency medical personnel are trained in the proper pre-hospital care of patients in the field. Pre-hospital care of patients suffering from suspected cervical spine injury involves making sure the patient has a patent airway. Placing a properly sized C-collar on the patient to stabilize the neck. Packaging the patient for transport to the emergency room, which involves proper placement and securing of patient on backboard, and making sure to secure the head and shoulders so there is no movement of these areas by the patient. While enroute to the hospital emergency room further assessment of patient can be done. Upon arrival at the emergency room there needs to be good communication between EMT's and ER staff.
The radiographer’s job is to deliverer quality X-rays that have been ordered by the medical staff. Basic radiographs required to exclude a cervical spine fracture include lateral view, anterioposterior view, and an open-mouth odontoid view. The lateral view must include all seven cervical vertebrae as well as the joint space between C7-T1. If this is not possible because of patient size or condition then a swimmers view will be needed. The anterioposterior...