San Francisco Hospitals Treat Over 100 Patients from Airliner Crash

San Francisco General received 53 patients total after Asiana Airlines crash

 

 
 
 

LIZ SZABO, USA TODAY | | Monday, July 8, 2013


San Francisco-area hospitals treated at least 168 survivors of the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 this weekend. Injuries ranged from minor bruises to paralyzing spinal cord injuries.

JEMS: Airliner Slams onto Runway at San Francisco Airport

San Francisco General Hospital, the city's only top-level trauma center, treated 53 patients -- 27 adults and 26 children -- from the accident, spokeswoman Rachael Kagan said. Five adults and one child remained in critical condition on Sunday.

California Pacific Medical Center was another area hospital with crash patients. It treated nine patients, including two children, with injuries such as compression fractures, rib injuries and leg injuries, spokesman Dean Fryer said.

Some of the most seriously wounded had head injuries, spinal cord damage causing paralysis or bleeding injuries inside the abdomen, M. Margaret Knudson, chief of surgery at San Francisco General, said at a news briefing Sunday.

"Some of our patients have been operated on twice already," Knudson said. "There are going to be many, many more surgeries to come."

Two of those in critical condition arrived with "road rash" on their back, limbs and face, suggesting they had been dragged over something, Knudson said.

Some patients weren't able to speak. Of those who could talk to doctors, most said they had been seated at the back of the plane, she said.

Doctors saw relatively few burns, Knudson said, even though the plane caught fire after the crash.

Knudson credited first responders and those doing triage on the scene for helping to save lives because they prioritized the most severely injured patients to be sent to the trauma center first.

Spinal cord injuries can be some of the most serious injuries in a crash such as this, said Samir Mehta, chief of the orthopedic and trauma service at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Mehta didn't treat any of the injured.

One survivor, Elliott Stone, told CNN that some passengers' heads hit the ceiling during the crash.

That sort of severe impact can compress the spine, much as someone might compress a Slinky, Mehta said. That can cause vertebrae -- the small bones that make up the spine -- to burst, throwing shreds of bones to the sides. Those shards can act like shrapnel to injure nerves.

Spongy discs between vertebrae normally act like shock absorbers for the spine, but severe pressure can crush even those discs, Mehta said. "If it gets compressed, the bone will literally burst."

"It's like taking a egg and dropping a dictionary on it," Mehta said.

Doctors need to operate immediately to relieve pressure on the nerves to prevent paralysis, Mehta said.

Patients also can be paralyzed if their heads pitch forward during a crash, knocking their foreheads against the seat in front of them, said Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

That can damage the C1 vertebrae, at the base of the skull, said Glatter, who did not treat any of the crash victims.

Andre Campbell, a trauma surgeon who was on call at San Francisco General during the emergency, said he treated some severe abdominal injuries. In some cases, the mesentery, a tissue that connects the stomach and other organs to the back wall of the abdomen, was pulled away from the intestines, probably because of the force of the crash.

"Your body is built to sustain a certain amount of force," Campbell said. "The forces that you sustain in an air crash are larger than the body is able to take."

Although seat belts sometimes can cause "restraint injuries," causing bruising or other damage to the abdomen, Campbell said seat belts clearly saved patients' lives Sunday.

"If they had not been restrained, they would be dead," Campbell said of the passengers. "If you are not restrained, you become a projectile."

Contributing: Nancy Blair in San Francisco
 



Copyright © 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, Asiana Airlines Crash

 
What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

 

 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Tennessee County EMS Shows Off CPR Tool

Lucas 2 in service in Bradley County.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Abilene Loses Helicopter Service

Native Air leaves city with only one air helicopter service.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

D.C. Fire Chief Proposes another Controversial Ambulance Plan

Staffing change will leave immediate neighborhood without fire apparatus.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

FDIC 2014 CHAT: MIKE MCEVOY AND A.J. HEIGHTMAN

Mike McEvoy and A.J. Heightman discuss some new EMS technology at FDIC 2014.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


More Product Videos >