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SECAmb introduces new spinal care guidelines

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) is the first ambulance service in the country to introduce new pioneering guidance aimed at improving the treatment of spinal injury patients.

The guidance includes the ending of the use of neck braces or semi-rigid collars on spinal injury patients. The ground-breaking approach is only currently in place in three other countries – Australia, Norway and Denmark. While collars are often seen as synonymous with spinal care, there is growing evidence that they could cause further harm, while providing little or no benefit.

Instead, for ‘standard patients’, spinal precautions will be undertaken with manual in-line stabilisation followed by head blocks, tape and placement on a scoop stretcher secured in a non-rigid vacuum mattress.

For a group of ‘non-standard’ patients – which may include older patients, those who are frail or have pre-existing spinal conditions, those with communication difficulties, pregnant patients, young children, bariatric patients or agitated and uncooperative patients – transport on a scoop stretcher is not beneficial. In these cases, a position of comfort approach will be used to minimise spinal motion and a special lanyard will be applied to the patient in order to alert the receiving emergency department of the patient’s status.

Soon to be adopted nationally by the Joint Royal Colleges Ambulance Liaison Committee, (JRCALC), SECAmb has been assigned as an ‘early adopter’ while the national guidelines are formalised.


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Source: South East Coast Ambulance Service, 15 July 2020


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