Article

Backboard time for patients receiving spinal immobilization by emergency medical services

International Journal of Emergency Medicine 06/2013; 6(1):17. DOI: 10.1186/1865-1380-6-17
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Use of backboards as part of routine trauma care has recently come into question because of to the lack of data to support their effectiveness. Multiple authors have noted the potential harm associated with backboard use, including iatrogenic pain, skin ulceration, increased use of radiographic studies, aspiration and respiratory compromise. An observational study was performed at a level 1 academic trauma center to determine the total and interval backboard times for patients arriving via emergency medical services (EMS).
Patients were directly observed. Transport time was recorded as an estimate of initiation of backboard use; arrival time, nurse report time and time of removal from the backboard were all recorded. National Emergency Department Overcrowding Study (NEDOCS) score, Emergency Severity Index (ESI) and demographic information were recorded for each patient encounter. Forty-six patients were followed. The mean total backboard time was 54 min (SD +/-65). The mean EMS interval was 33 min (SD +/-64), and the mean ED interval was 21 min (SD +/-15). The ED backboard interval trended inversely to ESI (1 = 5 min, 2 = 10 min, 3 = 25 min, 4 = 26 min, 5 = 32 min).
Patients had a mean total backboard time of around an hour. The mean EMS interval was greater than the mean ED interval. Further study with a larger sample directed to establishing associated factors and to target possible reduction strategies is warranted.

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    ABSTRACT: Background Immobilization of the spine of patients with trauma at risk of spinal damage is usually performed using a rigid long spineboard or vacuum mattress, both during prehospital and in-hospital care. However, disadvantages of these immobilization devices in terms of discomfort and tissue-interface pressures have guided the development of soft-layered long spineboards. We compared tissue-interface pressures between awake and anaesthetized (unconscious) patients during immobilization on a rigid spineboard and a soft-layered long spineboard. Methods In this comparative study, 30 anaesthetized patients were randomized to immobilization on either the rigid spineboard or the soft-layered spineboard for the duration of their elective surgery. Tissue-interface pressures measured using an Xsensor pressure-mapping device were compared with those of 30 healthy volunteers who were immobilized sequentially on the rigid spineboard and the soft-layered spineboard. Redness of the sacrum was also recorded for the anaesthetized patients immediately after the surgery. Results For both anaesthetized patients and awake volunteers, tissue-interface pressures were significantly lower on the soft-layered spineboard than on the rigid spineboard, both at start and after 15 minutes. On the soft-layered spineboard, tissue interface pressure and peak pressure index (PPI) for the sacrum were significantly lower for anaesthetized patients than for awake volunteers. Peak pressures and PPI on the rigid spineboard were equal for both groups. Tissue-interface pressures did not change significantly over time. Redness of the sacrum was significantly more pronounced on the rigid spineboard than on the soft-layered spineboard. Conclusions This prospective randomized controlled trial shows thatusing a soft-layered spineboard compared to a rigid spineboard for spinal immobilization resulted in lower tissue-interface pressures in both awake volunteers and anaesthetized patients. Moreover, tissue-interface pressures on the soft-layered spineboard were lower in anaesthetized patients than in awake volunteers. These findings show the importance of using a soft-layered spineboard to reduce tissue-interface pressure, especially for patients who cannot relieve pressure themselves by changing position.
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