Texas Tech ‘teletrauma’ technology to help trauma patients in rural communities

Texas Tech ‘teletrauma’ technology to help trauma patients in rural communities
A teletrauma program in our area is using technology to allow trauma surgeons to pick up their phone and reach patients in need in an instant. (Source: KFDA)

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - A teletrauma program in our area is using technology to allow trauma surgeons to pick up their phone and reach patients in need in an instant.

Years in the making, TTUHSC can now use teletrauma to come to the bedside of a trauma patient in a rural community and assist with their care virtually, before a patient is transported to Amarillo’s tertiary trauma center at Northwest Texas Hospital.

Texas Tech ‘teletrauma’ technology to help trauma patients in rural communities

“That way we would allow the rural providers access to a trauma expert in real-time, where by we could see what they were seeing and help manage that patient before they made it to a tertiary trauma center,” said Dr. Shane Harper, Director of the Teletrauma Program at Texas Tech.

Dr. Harper says knowing what has happened before a patient can safely travel to Amarillo makes all the difference for those in an emergency situation.

“It is a different feeling to know you can pick up your phone and just make an intervention to a patient,” said Dr. Harper. “It could mean life or death. It is also a little bit of reassurance to know that we can get to those patients as quickly as possible, make those early interventions, and help give that patient the best chance of surviving.”

Hemphill County Hospital in Canadian is the first to join the program.

Hemphill County Hospital CEO Christy Francis says with two major highways coming through the city, you never know when you’ll see a trauma patient.

“If a car wreck comes in with five patients, then that’s all at once in our small emergency room," said Francis. “It just gives that added level of specialist opinion on what to do with these complicated trauma patients.”

Francis says the teamwork between rural providers and trauma specialists will only benefit patients.

“We’re very fortunate to have the level of care that we do have here, but that level of care from a specialist just gives them that extra level of protection,” said Francis. “It’s an extra set of eyes, to help make those tough decisions.”

Harper says he’s hopeful the program will expand to more rural communities in the area in the near future.

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