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'Poor' Care Reported For Elderly Trauma Patients

Elderly Trauma Patients May Not Be Receiving The Best Standards Of Care


Poor standards of care for elderly patients suffering from various forms of trauma (injuries classed as life-threatening) have been reported by medical experts, despite such admissions increasing.

This is according to a report from the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, which revealed the care of such individuals is often "poorly managed".

Director of major trauma at Southampton General Hospital Dr Andy Enyon made this comment ahead of today's (Tuesday September 23rd's) Wessex Trauma Network annual conference.

He added that over-65s admitted to hospitals were often "overlooked", despite the fact that they account for more than one-third of all trauma admissions.

Trauma is the fifth most common cause of death among elderly citizens, with falls, violence, road traffic accidents and sporting injuries leading to the majority of these cases.

However, Dr Enyon explained that many elderly patients who suffer falls are simply deemed as frail and given traditional treatment, when they may actually need to be looked after as though they have experienced a trauma.

Failure to care for such patients in this way may be hindering the progress of trauma treatment in the country, while also preventing individuals from receiving the best possible care for their needs.

Despite these concerns, Dr Enyon said "fantastic progress" has been made in recent years with regard to trauma treatment for people in other age categories, leading to hundreds of extra lives being saved.

Dr Laura Tompsett, who is a specialist in evaluating trauma care for patients aged 65 and over, offered some advice on how standards could improve.

She said: "Earlier identification of injuries and earlier ortho-geriatric input may lead to better and more timely decision making, earlier access to treatment and a faster, more coordinated period of recovery and rehabilitation.

"Ultimately, this may reduce length of stay and, more importantly, reduce complications and save lives in this vulnerable group of patients."

Southampton General Hospital is one of only 12 centres to offer the full range of specialist surgical, intensive care and supporting services for all patients who suffer major trauma and the hospital now has a scheme in place that will see every patient aged over 65 with trauma injuries reviewed by a trained geriatrician.

Expert Opinion
The early identification of serious injuries among elderly patients plays a crucial role in more timely decision making, earlier access to treatment and an increase in the likelihood of rapid recovery and rehabilitation from the injury. It is vital steps are taken to ensure elderly people suffering serious injuries are able to access specialist trauma care, as ultimately this treatment can reduce the length of their stay in hospital and reduce the likelihood of serious complication in the future, which is particularly important among vulnerable patients.

“In our work we have represented a number of elderly people who have suffered serious complications as a result of poor-quality trauma care. We hope that the trial currently being conducted in Southampton will lead to improved care for elderly patients who have suffered a severe injury rolled out to other medical facilities around the UK.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner

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