Our expert answers 3 Questions
As a trauma and acute care surgeon, much of my clinical focus is on life-saving interventions. However, trauma and emergency surgery are sometimes viewed as single, isolated events that are often “accidental.” Because much of the work in the Trauma / Surgical Critical Care community is rightly focused on survival, little is known about what happens to patients after they leave the hospital. I’m trying to understand how we can move beyond helping our patients survive and toward helping our patients thrive after their life-changing injury or illness.
Over 95% of all injured patients survive to discharge. But after that, we have very little understanding of what proportion of patients actually get their lives back. We know very little about things like return to work, reintegration into society, return to baseline functional status, changes to chronic physical well-being, and changes to chronic mental health. These have very important implications for our patients and the entire healthcare system.
Once we better understand the variability in how many of our patients get their lives back after injury/acute illness, we can then identify interventions to improve their ability to do so. This will help us ensure we are providing total health care and help trauma patients not only survive, but thrive after injury.