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Decision-Making in Management of the Complex Trauma Patient: Changing the Mindset of the non-trauma Surgeon

Journal article
Authors L. Sonesson
Kenneth Boffard
Lars Lundberg
Martin Rydmark
K. Karlgren
Published in World Journal of Surgery
Volume 42
Issue 8
Pages 2392-2397
ISSN 0364-2313
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Surgery
Institute of Biomedicine
Pages 2392-2397
Language en
Keywords technology, Surgery
Subject categories Surgery


European surgeons are frequently subspecialized and trained primarily in elective surgical techniques. As trauma leaders, they may occasionally have to deal with complex polytrauma, advanced management techniques, differing priorities, and the need for multidisciplinary care. There is a lack of expertise, experience, and a low trauma volume, as well as a lack of research, with limited support as to the decision-making and teaching challenges present. We studied what experienced trauma experts describe as the challenges that are specific to the advanced surgical decision-making required, whether civilian, humanitarian, or military. Design-based research using combined methods including interviews, reviews of authentic trauma cases, and video-recorded resuscitations performed at a high-volume civilian academic trauma center. Several educational dilemmas were identified: (1) thinking physiologically, (2) the application of damage control resuscitation and surgery, (3) differing priorities and time management, (4) impact of environment, (5) managing limited resources, (6) lack of general surgical skills, (7) different cultural behavior, and (8) ethical issues. The challenges presented, and the educational domains identified, constitute a basis for improved development of education and training in complex surgical decision-making. This study contributes new knowledge about the mindset required for decision-making in patients with complex multisystem trauma and competing priorities of care. This is, especially important in countries having a low intensity of trauma in both military and civilian environments, and consequential limited skills, and lack of expertise. Guidelines focused on the same decision-making process, using virtual patients and blended learning, can be developed.

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