Arizona Mandates Concussion Treatment
As part of a special project, Arizona is the only state in the nation where emergency responders have been specially trained to treat traumatic brain injury, or TBI, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS).
The department announced Monday that “if you suffer a severe brain injury in Arizona, you will likely receive the best EMS treatment available in the country, thanks to the Excellence in Prehospital Injury Care (EPIC) project.”
As anyone familiar with brain injuries know, the medical care you receive even before you get to the hospital can mean the difference between not only life and death, but permanent brain injury or recovery.
With this in mind, the National Institutes of Health chose Arizona as the only state to evaluate the national standards for prehospital emergency care of TBI.
“In the most comprehensive endeavor of its kind, almost 100 fire departments and ground/air ambulance companies have been trained in the national standards, covering more than 80 percent of the population,” the state health department said.
Those agencies are sending treatment data to the ADHS and the University of Arizona College of Medicine for tracking and evaluation.
“The EPIC partnership across the state is allowing the implementation and evaluation of state-of-the-art treatment at the scene of an accident and is tracking how EMS care impacts the final outcome of patients,” Dr. Daniel Spaite, professor of emergency medicine at the state medical school, said in a statement.
“We know that treatment decisions immediately after a severe brain injury are critical,” he said. “That response, in the first few minutes after TBI, may have more impact on how well a patient recovers than any treatment at a hospital or in rehabilitation.”
The national standards provide guidance on how to treat shock and best perform ventilations on TBI patients who are not breathing normally, according to Monday’s announcement. These treatments are now considered “best practices” of TBI care and require special training and equipment “in the very challenging environment of care at an accident scene.”
“Research has shown that things like blood pressure, oxygenation and ventilation have a profound impact on patient outcomes after TBI,” said Dr. Ben Bobrow, medical director for the ADHS Bureau of EMS and Trauma System. “These critical EMS interventions make a huge difference in survival. Part of EPIC is also getting technology into the hands of EMS providers to help them deliver these guidelines.”
There are several breathing devices that assist with the timing, force and depth of ventilation treatment, and EPIC agencies can receive these devices for free, thanks to a donation from the Ramsey Social Justice Foundation. Such partnerships helped Arizona win the chance to implement and evaluate the national standards.
“The state’s ongoing work on sudden cardiac death outside of the hospital has shown the nation that Arizona is unique in its cooperative ability to implement patient care improvements and evaluate the impact on patient outcomes,” the ADHS said in its press release. “Because of this collaborative effort, the number of people who survive sudden death in Arizona has quadrupled in the past five years.”