The Prehospital Olympics
Do NOT put a pelvic splint on like this https://t.co/RZ1daRFlbu
— Caroline Leech (@LeechCaroline) August 9, 2016
— Ronan Archbold (@archie0231) August 9, 2016
I’ve never really felt the urge to write a blog, but the result of a tweet I sent last night around the medical care at the Olympic Games, has empowered me to justify the tweet I sent.
The tweet caused a variety of responses from lots of different levels of practitioner on Twitter.
Some were objecting to my use of Anglo Saxon to get across my surprise, and disgust at the level of care, and others felt that my accusations of sub standard care were completely unjustified.
As a bit of background we are 3 days into the greatest sporting event, that only happens every 4 years. The honour of hosting the games is often just as, if not more competitive than the Olympians themselves.
In the first 3 days there have been 3 traumatic injuries that were treated by staff at the scene. In every one of the cases the treatment has been sub standard to what one would expect for members of the public, let alone elite athletes, who dedicate their whole lives for the honour of representing their county at their chosen event.
The incidents were a gymnastics fall, and then 2 cycle accidents. The gymnastics incident resulted in the casualty receiving sub standard immobilisation of both their C spine, and obvious,serious fracture. The casualty was then dropped on the stretcher. The first cycling incident resulted in a cyclist crashing at speed, with a high index of suspicion of injuries due to the mechanism.
Unconfirmed times are suggesting that She was lay unconscious on Her own for in excess of 3mins. The casualty that generated my tweet, and hence this blog, was another cycling incident where a cyclist was again subject to sub standard immobilisation of Her C spine, and a completely wrong placement of a pelvic binder.
The tweets I received back after questioning the poor medical response ranged widely including advice that instead of criticising them, that I should get on a plane and fly out there and sort it out. Other tweets suggested that I was being unfair on the teams, and that it wasn’t their fault that they didn’t have good gear, or gold standard guidelines.
Others said that mine were wise words from someone who had probably never had their practice televised internationally, and never made any mistakes.
My response was that surely elite athletes should be treated by elite medics?
Also that basic anatomical correct placing of an immobilisation device, and initial casualty care wasn’t really an advanced skill?
The purpose of my tweet really wasn’t to upset anyone, and I subsequently deleted it. Anyone that knows me, will tell you that I am passionate about patients receiving gold standard pre hospital care.
My issue is that if you compare the olympics and the way we have witnessed medical care to Formula 1 for example, it is left badly lacking. Multiple F1 races are ran throughout the year in all corners of the globe. Their medical team is second to none. They practice and simulate not till they get it right, but until they can’t get it wrong.
The drivers are afforded gold standard care, whichever circuit they race at, anywhere on the globe.
So if F1 can do this multiple times in a year, why can’t the IOC adopt the same approach for the once every 4 years, that they put on the Olympic Games.
It may not be the fault of the teams, but the IOC should have a better delivery of medical care at their event.
If I was on TV in front of an audience of millions, providing medical care, I would ensure that I was absolutely on top of my game, delivering gold standard care. What we have seen so far, doesn’t require marginal gains, or a bit of polishing, it is fundamentally poor, bordering on dangerous care.
Not even basics done well. And at this level surely we can expect more than basics done well.
So in summary: sorry if I’ve upset anyone by bringing to you’re attention the sub standard medical care that we have witnessed over the first 3 days of competition, I personally would expect much more from the Firefighters, Police officers and offshore medics that I train, so I’m struggling to make excuses for the medical teams in Rio.
I however make no apologies for having very high standards that I uphold aggressively with passion, for the good of the patient.
It may the fault of the IOC, for not having a robust F1esque system in place, but please “don’t hate the player, hate the game”
Have deleted tweet re Olympic med care, as the last thing I want is to upset anyone. Sorry if I’ve caused any offence.
— Keating Team (@keatingteam1) August 9, 2016
Peer reviewed by IOC (not)