To move or not to move: are the general public confused about moving patients?

The management of trauma patients who have possible spinal cord injury with immobilization is standard professional practice. However, very little is known about how the general public, who are often first to arrive at the scene of an accident, manage such patients. A primary cross-sectional survey was conducted which asked members of the public how they would manage a fictional patient who had been knocked off his bicycle in a road traffic accident. The survey found that for some members of the public (8%), their overriding priority was that the patient must not be moved under any circumstances. Their fear of causing or exacerbating spinal injury was so great that they would not move the patient—even in order to undertake life-saving procedures such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The survey found that although only a small number of patients risk being affected by misinformed or confused members of the public, the consequences for such patients could be fatal. Given the seriousness of the consequences, there is a case for a public information campaign to remind the public of the correct prioritization of immediately life-saving interventions over spinal cord protection.

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