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Plastic surgeons should be part of disaster relief planning, response
Date:9/10/2009

DALLAS Sept. 10, 2009 When a terrorist bomb explodes, a tornado rips through a town, a hurricane devastates a region, or wildfires ravage homes and businesses, plastic surgeons are not typically atop the list of emergency responders.

But they should be, UT Southwestern Medical Center plastic surgeons and disaster experts recommend in the September issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Including plastic surgeons in disaster-relief efforts could improve long-term outcomes for victims of catastrophes, particularly in medical cases that might involve physical scarring and nerve damage, but which can be made worse by lack of quick attention.

"Plastic surgeons are often being overlooked in disaster-planning efforts, particularly in developing medical-team responders," said Dr. Rod Rohrich, chairman of plastic surgery at UT Southwestern and the study's senior author. "Plastic surgeons, particularly those based at academic medical centers and/or major trauma centers, are far more engaged in complex reconstruction procedures on a day-to-day basis than cosmetic surgeons. We are intimately involved in preventing and treating face and tissue scarring, treating burns, and handling sensitive nerve-related injuries, some of which can be best served by having plastic surgeons on the scene or at least near the front lines where disaster victims are being evacuated."

Examining the on-site evidence of several disasters, the authors identified four pivotal areas in trauma care where plastic surgeons have added expertise:

  • soft tissue trauma;
  • upper and lower extremity trauma;
  • facial trauma; and
  • burn management.

The authors suggest that plastic surgeons should be among those who help plan for medical responses prior to disasters, as well part of the responders working in conjunction with traditional surgical responders, such as trauma and orthopaedic surgeons.

The autho
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Contact: Russell Rian
russell.rian@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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