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Treating Your Loved One

Take care of yourself while we take care of your loved one.

Choose a Spokesperson

Having a loved one in the hospital for a critical injury or illness can be an emotionally overwhelming experience for everyone involved. You, your family and your friends may have many questions about the treatment of your loved one.

That is why it’s essential to choose a spokesperson for a patient. Having a spokesperson helps you establish good communication with the trauma care team who is caring for your family member or friend. The spokesperson also helps keep the lines of communication open with family and friends.

When communicating with the trauma care team, we encourage the patient’s spokesperson to:

  • Provide as much information as possible about the patient, especially if he or she cannot communicate.
  • Be sure to share the patient’s wishes regarding surgery, life-support equipment and other difficult decisions with the trauma care team.
  • Make a list of the patient’s questions and concerns, and those of their family and friends.

We welcome questions from the patient’s spokesperson about the equipment, treatments and overall care of your family member or friend. Your loved one may be attached to several tubes and machines. Each one has a specific function, so we urge you to ask why they are being used.

We want you to take care of yourself while your family member or friend is critically ill. He or she will need your support when his or her condition improves.

The Path to Recovery

Trauma patients are taken from the injury site to the Emergency Department, where a trauma team stabilizes the patient and decides the best treatment. Patients with severe injuries may go to the operating room or intensive care unit. Patients with less severe injuries may be placed in the Transitional Care Unit or trauma/surgical nursing unit.

The overall goal is to stabilize the patient’s condition. As the patient’s condition improves, the trauma team’s emphasis shifts toward physical and cognitive rehabilitation. Follow-up outpatient care includes treatment at the trauma outpatient services (TOPS) clinic.

Your Care Team

The Trauma Department consists of a large trauma team who cares for your loved one.

  • Trauma advanced practice nurse (APN): APNs play a key role in your loved one’s care. Trauma APNs are independent practitioners who collaborate with the trauma attending surgeon. They attend daily trauma rounds and develop patient care plans. Trauma APNs also perform minor procedures, can prescribe medicine and coordinate follow-up care. They communicate with the trauma care team and patients and families. APNs also coordinate with Outpatient Services to follow trauma patients after discharge.
  • Addictions counselor: A professional who provides alcohol screening, brief intervention and if necessary, referral to treatment for substance use.
  • Case manager: A professional who seeks out and coordinates resources for the trauma patient being discharged home.
  • Pastoral services: Chaplains who offer emotional and spiritual comfort to patients and families throughout hospitalization.
  • Physician assistant (PA): A health professional who practices medicine with the supervision of a licensed doctor.
  • Resident: A doctor who has completed medical school and is continuing his or her training in a specialty. Surgical and emergency medicine residents always work under the supervision of the trauma surgeon.
  • Respiratory therapist: A health care professional who provides breathing support and respiratory treatments.
  • Social worker: A professional who is experienced with coordinating social services needed by trauma patients and their families.
  • Trauma nurse: A registered nurse who has advanced training in the care of trauma patients. Trauma nurses care for patients around the clock and are responsible for updating families on the patient’s condition with the trauma team.
  • Trauma hospitalist: A medical doctor who works with the trauma care team on health issues that may impact trauma care.

Other health care professionals may help care for your loved one health care professionals include surgical and medical specialists and occupational therapist, psychiatrist, physiatrist, physical therapist, and speech/language pathologist.

A group of health care providers who represent the Trauma Department

Frequently Asked Questions

You have questions.  We're here to help during this difficult time.

Trauma patients usually are brought to Christiana Hospital via helicopter or ambulance by emergency medical services (EMS) personnel.

Helicopter transport may include the ChristianaCare LifeNet, a 24-hour, seven day a week critical care aeromedical helicopter service. LifeNet provides interfacility transport as well as emergency scene work for the critically ill and injured citizens of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland.

EMS transport may include the ChristianaCare Mobile Intensive Care Unit. The MICN unit is staffed with a specialty-trained mobile intensive care nurse (MICN) and emergency care technician.

At the injury site or referring hospital, the EMS team, LifeNet or MICN alerts our trauma team of the incoming patient.

During transport, emergency personnel treat every patient with the highest degree of safety and emergency care.

After the trauma team checks the severity of the patient’s injuries in the Emergency Department, first steps include determining the level of care needed and may also include ordering tests such as x-rays. Based on the evaluation, the patient may then go to the operating room for emergency surgery, the intensive care unit or a trauma surgical nursing unit.

Our most urgent priority when trauma patients arrive at the trauma center is to stabilize their condition. That may take several hours, during which time the trauma team may run tests or perform emergency surgery or procedures.

Knowing how painful and frightening this waiting period can be, we make every effort to let you see your loved one briefly and learn the status of his or her condition.

When you arrive at the Emergency Department, you meet with the trauma attending surgeon or resident. A family support team member will serve as your contact with the trauma team and update you often on the patient’s status until the trauma attending surgeon or resident can provide details of the injury.

Many different doctors, advanced practice nurses, nurses and health professionals are involved in treating trauma patients during hospitalization. The trauma team is led by an attending trauma surgeon who consults with other surgeons and medical professionals about the best treatment for the patient.

The impact of trauma injury on the patient’s family is great. With no warning, you are thrown into a crisis and must make informed decisions. To help you get through this stressful time, remember to select one person to speak for your family and share information with medical staff; provide as much information about the patient’s medical history as you can; ask questions and write down answers – the more you know, the better you are able to cope.

The recovery period is different for each patient, depending on what injuries they have and the health and age of the patient. Discharge plans can vary due to the injuries suffered and the support systems available to patients and their families. A social worker and the trauma team will develop a plan that considers everyone’s needs.

We want you to take care of yourself while your family member or friend is critically ill.

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