Sunday, September 28, 2008

Blast Injuries

Last night we had an interesting patient: a 30 year-old male injured in an explosion at a job site. He works in his family's blasting business in northern Maine, and while working at a construction site Friday there was a premature detonation of powder at a site they were working on. My patient was in the blast crater when the detonation occurred.

His injuries were pretty extensive. They include a fractured humerus, a foreign body embedded in the orbit of his left eye, some bi-lateral lung damage from inhaled debris, and the worst case of road rash I have ever seen. He had abrasions on his face, neck, arms, you name it, he had it.

Initially he was flown to the Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor then was transported by ground ambulance to the Brigham and Women's. The ride was 5 hours from Bangor to Boston, and they couldn't fly him because of the rain we were getting. In fact, nobody was flying this weekend because of the weather we got.

He'd had surgery at the BI to repair the injuries to his left arm and had a wound vacuum in place to keep the opening (it was a compound fracture, apparently) dry. His eye was patched, he'd received multiple breathing treatments prior to our arrival, and his abrasions had only been partially cleaned up. My understanding is that he was going to have the remainder of the abrasions debrided over the course of the next few days plus have another surgery on his left eye to repair the damage to the orbit.

All in all, he is a very fortunate young man. Not only did he survive the blast, but he tolerated all that was done to fix him reasonably well. He was able to talk to me when I asked him questions about his condition as well as follow instructions when I assessed him for the transport from the BI to the Brigham.

For those of you familiar with the Longwood area, I realize it is only a quarter mile from the BI East Campus to the Brigham, but whenever I transport someone from place to place, I always assess them as thoroughly as possible because things indeed can happen in the span of 7-10 minutes on the road. Having been victim of that, I know that what I am saying is true.

I only hope that he is able to fully recover from his injuries. Not only that, but I also hope that he and his family recover from the emotional scarring that is bound to follow.

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