Top 5 Things a Trauma Nurse Sees in the ER

NursingOctober 28, 2013


When working in a hospital, a nurse can see anything from a stroke to the sniffles, whereas a trauma nurse may see severe injuries like shootings, stabbings, and car accidents. Here are the top five things a nurse may see in the ER:

1. There is a high price to pay for walking on two legs. Little kids fall from tree houses, teenagers jump into pools and injure themselves, and there is an inevitable spike in roof falls during Christmas light season. Elderly patients can lose their balance and become injured from falling in their own homes. A fall can land you straight into the trauma bay with spinal cord injuries, broken bones, severe bleeding (internal and external), or even death.

2. Car accident victims are frequently brought into the trauma room. These accidents do not discriminate against age. From tiny babies to the elderly, anyone can be caught up in a fender bender or a ten car pileup, which may lead to broken bones, amputations, head injuries, and internal bleeding. Victims are sometimes ejected from cars, further complicating their injuries.

3. Depending on the environment, a trauma nurse may see more violent penetrative trauma, like shootings and stabbings. These tend to be urban areas with an active night life that may be susceptible to higher levels of crime. Also of note, the later in the evening (or early in the morning) a trauma occurs, the higher the blood alcohol level of the victims. Which means a trauma nurse may have to work with an intoxicated, combative patient who has just been shot or stabbed. It adds another layer of difficulty to the job at hand.

4. Assault or blunt force traumas are another common sight in the trauma room. Victims of domestic abuse, bar fights, or muggings fall into this category. Nurses in the ER must work with the trauma team to find and treat all injuries. They should also have the tact and sensitivity to work with victims of assault and domestic abuse.

5. Nurses working in the trauma room will also see doctors, other nurses, paramedics, firefighters, and even police officers. The trauma room involves team effort and trauma nurses are an important part of injury treatment. They can prepare medications, start IVs, expose the injury by removing clothing, perform CPR, and adapt to the needs of the patient. An environment such as this requires a high level of competence and ability to work in a life or death situation. A trauma nurse must mentally handle seeing patients in severe pain. The human body will be broken, bruised and split open. Bones may be sticking out at odd angles and limbs may be missing. A child may be a victim of violence. Being a trauma nurse is not a job for everyone because it can take an emotional toll, but it is a job that saves lives in the very truest sense of the term.

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