Challenges of prehospital silver trauma patients

Silver trauma patients, defined as those aged >65 years who have traumatic injuries, are a complex group because physiology alters with age leading to difficulties with assessment. This is exacerbated within the prehospital setting as environmental factors and ambulance delays increase the risk of complications. This article focuses on the pathophysiology and application of clinical guidelines on three aspects of prehospital silver trauma: neurology, osteology and haemorrhage. Neurologically, silver trauma patients have a higher risk of traumatic brain injury and are harder to assess because of age-related cognitive decline. Regarding osteology, older people, particularly postmenopausal women, are at a higher risk of vertebral fracture, with many going undiagnosed. Haemorrhage is also influenced, as geriatric patients typically experience occult bleeding or rebleeding several days after an event when crews have left. Despite these risks, prehospital guidelines often offer little support for clinicians in making holistic, clinically sound decisions for their patients.

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