DGU Press release

International Symposium on 1 September 2023: 20 years of shock room training in Germany

© G. Dillan / BG Klinik Ludwigshafen

For 20 years, doctors in Germany's A&E departments have been speaking the language of trauma. It is characterised by finely tuned communication among doctors and nurses to save the lives of seriously injured patients, for example after a traffic accident. The basis for this is the advanced training concept for standardised shock room management. Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS), which is now used worldwide German Trauma Society (DGU) brought to Germany from the USA in 2003. In Germany, 20,000 doctors have been trained and around 5,000 have received refresher training. "In Germany, about 100 severely injured patients benefit every day from the ATLS training of their attending doctors," says DGU President Prof. Dr. Steffen Ruchholtz. On 1 September 2023, a symposium will take place at the AUC - Academy of Trauma Surgery (AUC) in Munich with anniversary greetings from the American partner "American College of Surgeons" (ACS) and from European colleagues.

"We wish to congratulate our German partner on 20 years of ATLS in Germany. The quality of its courses is outstanding. Important study results from Germany are continuously incorporated into the further development of the internationally valid course concept," says Stephen Bush, President of the ATLS Europe Association (AEA) on the occasion of the meeting in Munich.

ATLS is a training concept that serves as a compass for a specific sequence in diagnostics and treatment so that doctors can save and treat severely injured people. The fundamental idea is to quickly detect and deal the most threatening injuries and disturbances of the patient's vital functions. Medical staff first eliminate the danger that could lead to death most quickly (treat first what kills first). For this purpose, the emergency team in the shock room, the hotspot of the emergency department, communicates via the five first letters of the ABCDE alphabet: Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Disability (neurological deficits) and Exposure. It makes checks in the following order: are the airways clear, is the patient breathing, what is the pulse and blood pressure, is there pupillary response, what is the level of consciousness and is there bleeding from injuries? This is because patients are more likely to die from obstructed airways than from lung impairment. "In the many handover situations that a severely injured person has to go through from the accident scene to the shock room to the operating theatre, ATLS, as the 'common language of trauma', helps to increase precision and save time. The ABCDE scheme specifies which action needs to be taken and in which order. It enables teamwork without loss of time and efficiency," says ATLS Germany Director Dr Frithjof Wagner from BG Unfallklinik Murnau.

"The introduction of the system has improved the structure of care for seriously injured people. Those who act safely ensure better treatment," adds PD Dr. Christoph Wölfl from the Marienhaus Klinikum St. Elisabeth in Neuwied, who is a DGU delegate on the scientific advisory board of the ATLS Europe Association (AEA). He is up for election to the AEA Presidency on 1 September.

The ATLS training or an equivalent course is mandatory for over 680 trauma centres of the Initiative DGU® Trauma Network. This is where seriously injured people are usually treated. These clinics are specially equipped and certified so that they offer accident victims the best possible chance of survival.

"Since the start of the programme in 2003, we have conducted around 1,400 ATLS training courses at our academy, and in 2024 we will be able to offer over 140 ATLS courses," says Markus Blätzinger, Managing Director of AUC GmbH. "Our special thanks today go to the approximately 230 ATLS directors and instructors who are committed to this important programme with us."

The ATLS training sessions are also important against the background of the planned reorganisation of emergency centres. This is because it would then no longer be possible to guarantee that every seriously injured person would receive initial treatment by a shock room team led by an experienced trauma surgeon. "We have to act here as caretakers of patients of all ages," says DGU Secretary General Prof. Dr Dietmar Pennig.

It is estimated that there are almost ten million people injured in accidents in Germany every year. Most minor accidents happen at home and during leisure time. However, more than 30,000 people are injured so severely, usually in a road accident or fall, that their lives are in danger. In order to give them the best chance of survival, they are immediately admitted to the shock room of an emergency room in hospital. The international shock room training ATLS belongs to the "American College of Surgeons" (ACS) from the USA. 40 years after its introduction in America, this course is also a cornerstone of modern German trauma surgery. Currently, over 60 countries offer ATLS in coordination with the ACS Programme Office. The DGU acquired the licence in 2003.

1) Injury Monitor of the German Society for Trauma Surgery

Appointment notes:

The German Congress of Orthopaedics and Trauma Surgery (DKOU) will take place in Berlin from 24 to 27 October 2023. With around 8,000 participants, it is the most important event for "O and U" in Europe; the latest developments and challenges of the disciplines are discussed here. Under the motto "Competent in Quality and Progress", this year there is a special focus on the effective management of treatment quality as well as on new scientific findings and technological possibilities for patient care.

Tues. 24.10.2023, 16:00 - 17:00 Trauma network

1) What does the hospital reform mean for the trauma centres?
2) Our experiences with war wounded from Ukraine - problems with care
3) Major incidents - what is the organisation like, what structures are in place?
4) Dealing with severe bleeding - minimum requirements for trauma centres

Click here to the German version of the press release

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