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General management of trauma


General management of trauma
General management of trauma
General management of trauma
General management of trauma

Trauma may occur as a result of motor vehicle crash, fights, fall, gunshot, sports, animal bites etc. and is associated with head, musculoskeletal, lacerations, visceral and neurovascular injuries. The aim of managing trauma is to prevent life threatening complications that may lead to increased morbidity and mortality. There is a systematic trauma protocol in place, Glascow coma score (level of consciousness), trauma score, ABCDE protocol, emphasizing on the primary survey, resuscitation and finally secondary survey.

ABCDE Trauma Protocol

A (airway)

• Is it patent?
• Any secretions?
• Tongue fall?
• Any mouth/nose bleeding?
• Did patient drowned?
• Vomited?
• Aspirated?

• Place an oral airway.
• Raise the chin of mandible
• Suctioning if required
• Endotracheal intubation (ETT)

B (breathing)

• Record the respiratory rate (normal 10-20/min adults; 30– 60/min children)
• Assess for chest asymmetry, abnormal movements or chest indrawing
• Locate the trachea centrality
• Ensure air entry into both lungs by auscultation


• Assist breathing by mouth to mouth, ambu bag or nasal prongs If fails do ETT and mechanical ventilation
• Place the chest tube in case of hemothorax, pneumothorax or tension types
• Plaster the open chest wound



• Assess arterial pulse
• BP and heart sounds for signs of shock

• Treat shock accordingly
• Set an I.V. line with isotonic fluids

D (Disability)

• Assess level of consciousness using GCS scale

• Treat the head injury accordingly

E (exposure)

• Un-dress the patient to observe for signs of soft tissue injuries or fractures.
• Blunt injuries to the chest, abdomen or the dorsal spine may indicate the life threatening ailment underneath

• Catheterize
• NGT insertion Treat accordingly.
• Surgery may be indicated based on specialist requirement

Hospital Level Interventions

• Manage as above-primary and secondary survey, review the resuscitation management given before arrival to hospital
• Search systematically according to ABCDE Trauma Protocol for any signs of major injury such as:-
o Head and Eye injury
o Dental trauma
o Fractured spine
o Chest injuries
o Internal abdominal/Pelvic injuries
• Manage accordingly. Emergency/casualty room set up is mandatory.
• Refer if specialist intervention is required

Signs and symptoms

Diagnostic Criteria

• There is a history of trauma
• Level of consciousness
• General Treatment
• Community/Dispensary Level Interventions



  • Pharmacological

    Clear airway

    • Minimize bleeding and dress wounds
    • Assess cardiac function: arterial pulse, BP and capillary refill.
    • Administer analgesics for pain control
    • Diclofenac injections 75mg 8hrly
    • Splint long bone fractures

    Use available splint and neck collar
    • If unconscious put in coma position and protect the spine.
    • Consider anti-tetanus prophylaxis according to the protocol (see table below)
    • Refer to the centres/health facilities where there is expertise.

    Health Centre Level Interventions

    • Manage as above, capitalizing on ABCDE Trauma Protocol, review the resuscitation therapy given before arrival
    • Catheterize bladder in unconscious patient.
    • Give IV Normal Saline or Ringer’s Lactate
    • Do not feed patient, if unconscious put an NGT tube and an oxygen face mask
    • If there are open wounds do surgical debridement and dress:


    • Ampicillin 500 mg IV 6 hourly
    • Chloramphenicol 500 mg IV 6 hourly
    • Cloxacillin 500 mg IV 6 hourly
    • Anti-tetanus prophylaxis according to the protocol (see table below)
    • Anti rabies according to the protocol
  • Non-pharmacological


Updated on,

14 Novemba 2020 07:38:08


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