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Improvements in Trauma Care Save Lives

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report. In the United States, hospitals with the best resources to treat injuries are known as trauma centers. One of the largest is at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center.

Dr. Demetrios Demetriades is the director of trauma services at the hospital. He says when a trauma team is activated, all the members are expected to be ready within five minutes. This happens before the patient even arrives. Every member of the team has a job to do. Dr. Demetriades says this methodical way of treating patients in the trauma center has greatly reduced preventable deaths.

Other trauma care changes have also improved survival rates. One change involves emergency medical technicians and paramedics. These first responders are often with local fire and rescue departments. They can start treatment in the field while communicating with doctors at the hospital. But Dr. Demetriades says the thinking now is to avoid any delays in transporting seriously injured patients.

The new policy is known as "scoop and run." Another change is that the hospital does not always operate on patients with gunshots to the abdomen. Avoiding surgery reduces the risk of infection and other problems. Some lessons in trauma care have come from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Demetriades says one lesson is to not give trauma patients large amounts of saline and other intravenous fluids. Patients are given fresh blood products instead. Changes like these have improved the chances of survival in trauma centers by as much as 25 percent.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Mario Ritter. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 15May2013)

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