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Air Ambulance director clarifies emergency surgery incident

PUBLISHED: 10:40 21 April 2010 | UPDATED: 16:55 07 September 2010

London s Air Ambulance bosses have dismissed reports that its paramedics performed emergency surgery on a patient at the scene of an incident in London. An LAA statement released today said: This is incorrect. Emergency surgery is only performed by spe

London's Air Ambulance bosses have dismissed reports that its paramedics performed emergency surgery on a patient at the scene of an incident in London.

An LAA statement released today said: ''This is incorrect. Emergency surgery is only performed by specialist trauma doctors who provide a 24 hour pre-hospital trauma service in the capital.''

The LAA stands apart from the traditional ambulance service by delivering a team including a specially trained trauma doctor specialising in pre-hospital emergency medicine, and a flight paramedic who has additional training for the role.

The doctor is able to perform life saving medical interventions, traditionally only carried out in hospital which paramedics are not qualified to undertake. Examples include, anaesthesia, thoracostomy, chest drain insertion, central veneous cannulation and thoracotomy.

Dr Gareth Davies, Medical Director of LAA commented: "Prehospital thoracotomy is a procedure pioneered by the team in London, where patients undergo open heart surgery at the scene of the incident. It's only undertaken in the severest of cases and aims to restart the heart. It is literally the difference between life and death. We are extremely proud of our team which has produced survivors that we know could not have survived anywhere else in the world".

Based at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, London E1, London's Air Ambulance is a charity that works 24/7 to deal with the capital's major trauma. The service is required when the victim's injuries are severe, time is of the essence and procedures usually only found in hospitals need to be performed immediately at the scene.

The LAA serves the 10 million people living, working and commuting within London; you can help to keep the service in our skies. Log on to www.londonsairambulance.com to donate.

* Thoracotomy is a procedure carried out on the chest to undertake open heart surgery. It involves a large incision to the chest wall with exposure to all the internal organs of the chest. It is only carried out as a last resort when the patient has lost signs of life, but in certain situations can yield survival rates of 18%.


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