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Trauma Center hosts 22nd annual trauma symposium

In keynote address, VCU Health CEO advocates for military-civilian partnerships to strengthen
national security and advance trauma care.

Dr. Arthur Kellermann

By James Shea

The VCU Health Trauma Center’s 22nd Annual Rao R. Ivatury Trauma Symposium brought together health care providers for an opportunity to learn about current challenges and advancements in trauma care

Providing the keynote address for this year’s symposium was Dr. Art Kellermann, senior vice president for VCU Health Sciences and CEO of VCU Health System. Titled “How the U.S. Military Reinvented Trauma Care and What this Means for American Medicine,” the talk focused on what the medical community can learn from the military. 

Technology developed at VCU Health reduced deaths on the battlefield

Kellermann co-edited “Out of the Crucible: How the U.S. Military Transformed Combat Casualty Care in Iraq and Afghanistan,” which describes how military and civilian partners championed more than 25 major advances in trauma care that saved thousands of service-members’ lives.  The speed at which the advances were accomplished is one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of American medicine, Kellerman said. 

“Over the span of less than a decade, 2005 to 2013, in the face of increasing injury severity as IEDs [improvised explosive devices] became more powerful and more prevalent, our military health system cut the death rate from combat wounds in half, to the lowest level in the history of warfare.”

One of the technologies profiled in the book is Quick Clot Combat Gauze, which is embedded with a material that quickly promotes clot arterial wounds. Researchers at VCU developed the technology. Today, the product is not only used by the U.S. military; it has been widely adopted by civilian EMS services, law enforcement and trauma centers.  

Lessons from the battlefield can be used in hospitals

During his keynote, Kellermann said the military’s experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan show how adopting concepts developed in wartime improves trauma care in civilian hospitals and emergency services. 

He shared four recent lifesaving innovations that come from battlefield medicine and are now used regularly in civilian care: modern tourniquets; topical bleeding control technology; use of forward surgical teams that practice “damage control surgery”; and critical care air transport teams.

Going forward, the U.S. should consciously promote a strong alliance between military and civilian trauma teams, Kellerman said.

“We shouldn’t have separate military trauma and civilian trauma systems,” Kellermann said. “We need to blend the two and combine the strengths of both. We are pursuing this goal at VCU Health.”

VCU Health leading role in regional trauma care

VCU Health is home to the only Level I trauma center in the region verified in adult, pediatric, and burn trauma care. As a Level I trauma center, VCU Medical Center is equipped to handle the most serious types of trauma cases for adults and children 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Kellermann said that under the leadership of Dr. Rao Ivatury, VCU Health became one of the nation’s leading centers for trauma care. Following in his mentor’s footsteps, Dr. Michel Aboutanos, medical director of VCU Health’s Trauma Center, has built on that foundation, to elevate the VCU Trauma center to new heights in optimal EMS and trauma care, community engagement, and regional and global trauma system development. 

“VCU Health plays an important role in enhancing and improving trauma and burn care in the commonwealth, United States, and across the world,” Aboutanos said. “The Rao R. Ivatury Trauma Symposium has become an important tool for us to disseminate that information and share with others in the field what we have learned from innovative prehospital resuscitation, critical nursing care in trauma and burn, to military civilian partnership and the value it brings to civilian trauma care.”

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